The UK polocrosse team managed to lay some ghosts to rest with a convincing 3-0 test series win against Ireland at Tyrella Polocrosse Club in County Down on the 30th of April and the 1st of May. The UK men suffered a 2-0 series defeat against the Irish in July 2010 and there was a concern that their men’s section might struggle in this test match series, which would have not have been the best way to start their warm up for the World Cup in the summer.
However, they quickly put any concerns to bed with two wins on the Saturday in two six chukkas matches and then a convincing win in an 8 chukka test match on the Sunday. The UK World Cup team played all 8 of their players while Ireland swapped between different members of their 12 man squad as they tried to find the best combinations for their final team in the summer and also tried to find an answer to the UK, but alas no answer was forthcoming.
The UK won the three tests 17-8, 18-11 and 23-13 with the UK ladies winning their three halves of the matches 8-6, 11-6 and 15-3, while the UK men managed to win their three chukkas in the first two tests 9-2 and 7-5 before going down 8-10 to the Irish men in the final match but they won the final chukka 5-2 and with the UK ladies so far ahead in their chukkas the result of the overall match was in little doubt.
The UK ladies were on their usual dominant form as they showed why they have only lost one match since the last World Cup in 2007, though Ireland were missing Avis Watton who is one of their key players and likely to feature in the World Cup team, and the UK men section looked stronger than their full men’s team has over the last two years against South Africa and Ireland. Indeed, the only really bad moment for the UK was when James Davidson parted company with his horse in the final test match after it stumbled and he had to be taken to hospital. However, after X-rays confirmed he had no broken bones and was simply very badly bruised he was released from hospital the next day and is currently travelling back to the UK from Ireland.
The UK’s coach Simon Shearing said he was pleased with the result but now the squad needed to focus on the next test match series, which will see them play Ireland again but this time in the UK itself, at the Northern Racing College near Doncaster alongside the Pennine Tournament on the 4th and 5th of June. By then Ireland are expected to have named their final team and the UK could have a harder battle on their hands against the final 8 than they did against an Ireland team that chopped and changed from match to match, which no doubt did not help their players link with each other as well as they can.
While the UK will want more of the same in four weeks, Ireland will look to improve on this performance and show to the world that they can cause a World Cup upset and break into the top four in the world. They finish 5th in 2003 and 6th in 2007, they will want to improve on this in 2011 but to do some they will probably need to overcome either the UK or South Africa in their group stage, as well as defeating the USA, which could all prove tricky on current form.