After months of waiting and expectation the Australian National Champiopnships got underway today in Ballarat in Victoria and we were right on the scene (and now slightly sunburnt) to bring you all the results. The Nationals this year are hosted by Ballarat Polocrosse Club at their grounds just outside the city of Ballarat. The pitches (all 7 of them) look fairly immaculate and held up very well to the first days play. The weather was, we thought, pretty good with the sun shining brightly all day and the temperature reaching about 25 degrees at its peak but we did hear numerous people complaining that it was bit cold!
The Australian National Championships are the biggest polocrosse event in the world with around 500 players taking part over 10 grades. The only states to have teams in every grade are New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. Western Australia are represented in 8 grades (they are only missing teams in the Masters Mixed and Under 21 Mixed) and then the three smaller states are represented as follows; South Australia, 4 grades; Northern Territory, 3 grades; Tasmania, 2 grades.
It was the biggest two states, Queensland and New South Wales who got off to the best start, both winning all their opening matches. In contrast the hosts Victoria suffered badly as they lost all four of their matches, with a couple of close defeats making the pain even greater.
Four grades got underway today, the Masters men, the Masters Mixed, the Senior Mixed, the Under 21 mixed and the Junior Mixed. Queensland and New South Wales (NSW) played in every grade and they both won every one of their matches. The other states all struggled against them, with only Western Australia (WA) picking up a single win against South Australia (SA) in the Senior Mixed grade.
Victoria almost upset the Queensland party in the best match of the day in the Senior Mixed. Victoria got off to a bad start when in the second chukka Jamie Dowesly’s horse was injured and had to leave the field but Willy Radcliffe came in at the number 1 spot and played brilliantly to pull Victoria out in front. They almost held out till the end but then a couple of missed pick ups cost them dearly and Queensland nipped in to score 2 quick goals and though Victoria pulled a goal back right at the end they couldn’t quite do enough and Queensland claimed the win by 19 goals to 18.
The other close matches in the day were between the Masters Mens teams of NSW and WA and then the Masters Mens teams and Under 21 Mixed teams of Queensland and Victoria.
NSW’s Masters Men overcame WA by 19 goals to 16 in a close fought match which aptly demonstrated why the grade is called the Masters but in the end the NSW talent told and they pulled out a lead over the last few chukkas.
The Masters Mens match between Queensland and Victoria was a slightly more scrappy and low scoring affair which saw no less than four people part company with their horses at various stages. Both teams struggled to score quick goals in the areas and Victoria in particular were guilty of making mistakes. The pick of the players was Murray Sturgees at number 1 for Queensland, he played well throughout and was instrumental in securing their 12 goals to 9 victory.
Victoria will also be disappointed that they didn’t get a win in the Under 21 Mixed. Their team went down to Queensland by 12 goals to 14.
The other matches on the day were fairly one sided. SA got off to a good start in their Masters Mixed match against Queensland. They lead 3 goals to nil early on but then the Queensland team managed to get on top and eventually won 17 goals to 9. NSW overcame Victoria in the Masters Mixed by 27 goals to 7. In the Senior Mixed WA overcame SA by 23 goals to 6 and NSW overcame Tasmania 25 goals to 5. Tasmania also suffered a defeat to NSW in the Under 21 Mixed, where NSW won 25 goals to 6. In the Junior Mixed Queensland beat WA by 18 goals to 3 and NSW beat Victoria 25 goals to 6.
NSW defeated WA – 19 – 16
Queensland defeated Vixtoria – 12 – 9
NSW defeated Victoria – 27 – 7
Queensland defeated SA – 17 – 9
WA defeated SA – 23 – 6
Queensland defeated Victoria – 19 – 18
NSW defeated Tasmania – 25 – 5
Under 21 Mixed
NSW defeated Tasmania – 25 – 6
Queensland defeated Victoria – 14 – 12
Queensland defeated WA – 18 – 3
NSW defeated Victoria – 25 – 6