The UK polocrosse team continued their good warm up for the World Cup by defeating Ireland 2-0 in their final test match series before the competition begins on the 8th of July. However, they were pushed all the way in the second test match and only emerged victorious by one goal as the Irish fought to the bitter end.

The test matches were held alongside the Pennine tournament at the Northern Racing College in Bawtry, South Yorkshire on the 4th and 5th of June and with just a month to go before the World Cup both teams were determined to gain some confidence to take into the contest. The first test match on the Saturday was a slightly more scrappy affair with more fouls and more missed opportunities but it was very level until the 5th chukka when the UK ladies won 5-1 and made the overall lead 5 goals. From then on the UK never looked back and went on to win 26-18 as the Irish seemed to lose their fight towards the end. Jason Burbidge pulled on the UK number 1 shirt in the final chukka for the first time in 4 years and he duely scored three goals to the Ireland’s 1 to wrap things up.

However, Sunday was a very different matter with the teams pretty much going goal for goal, though the UK were never behind in the match and normally kept a two or three goal cushion going throughout. However it was in the 8th and final chukka that things got very dramatic as Ireland fought their way back from three goals down to level the score at 23 all with about 2 minutes on the clock. The UK had the chance to go ahead after a couple of mistakes from both teams but Jason Webb agonisingly saw his shot hit the post and go wide. However, the UK team showed greater composure and perhaps a greater ability to cope with disappointment than they have previously, as they won the ball back from the Irish at the resulting 30 yard clearing throw, got it back to Jason Webb in the area and this time he made no mistakes as he slotted the winning goal and create a thrilling finale to what was a brilliant match.

Ireland will be disappointed not to have won but in truth it was the better team who won. The UK ladies were as good as they always are and though Ireland coped with them better than they have done previously it still wasn’t quite enough. The UK and Irish men both looked better on Sunday than they did on Saturday but the Irish men won their half of the match on Sunday, having been beaten 10-8 on Saturday. On the Saturday the UK men won 16-11 but both teams seemed a little lacklustre until Jason Burbidge spiced thigs up a little in the final chukka with his surprise appearance up front.

For the UK Danny Duhig was probably their stand out player as he switched between number 1 and number 3 in the second match with ease and did a pretty good job marking up the man who is probably Ireland’s biggest danger, Seb Chambers, even making him miss one goal. Ireland’s other danger man in Aidan McDonagh did not seem to make the impact he has in previous years, only playing at number 2 and not looking at his best.

However, probably the biggest thing that the UK will take from the second match is the fact they didn’t throw it away at the end. UK teams have been guilty in the past couple of years of letting mistakes affect them and letting teams come back at them when they seem to have the better of them and there was probably a number of UK fans around the pitch who feared it might happen again as Ireland levelled it up and Jason’s shot went wide. This time they showed belief in themselves that they could win and they did not let a single setback disrupt them, they simply won the ball back and went and scored. One thing a champion team needs is belief and the UK seems to be starting to believe that it can actually win, something which was perhaps lacking four years ago when the Australians routed them in the last World Cup final.

Ireland and UK Players Used


Avis Watton
Dara Mangan
Rona O’Dwyer
Seb Chambers
Eoin O’Donnell
BJ Byrne
Aidan McDonagh


Sarah Simkin (Captain)
Debbie Harris
Charlotte Pykett
Lizzie Shearing
Jason Webb (Captain)
Danny Duhig
James Davidson
Jason Burbidge

Results of matches in full (UK score is always on the left)

Chukka Match 1 Match 2
1 (Ladies)
2 (Men)
3 (Ladies)
4 (Men)
5 (Ladies)
6 (Men)
7 (Ladies)
8 (Men)
Total (Ladies)
Total (Men)