Battling Screwless Tuskers give mighty All Blacks a scare
Reported in the Bangkok Post, September 9

Hua Hin, September 8

Hua Hin - Composure, control and resilience were the winning tactics of the day at yesterday's King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament where surprising scores belied hotly contested matches and Kiwi honour came close to being doused.

In one of the tournament's most eagerly anticipated games between New Zealand's PricewaterhouseCoopers All Blacks and Thailand's Screwless Tuskers, what appeared to be an academic result to the All Blacks, was instead a tense two-chukka tussle for the ball. All Blacks' Steve McDowell knocked home the match's first goal, converting a great pass and showing his world-class sporting form. Any complacency the tourists might have felt was short lived with the Tuskers' Tak scoring a brilliant equaliser as the half-time gong rang. An early second chukka penalty by former prop-forward McDowell, gave the All Blacks some breathing space.

However, with the Tuskers camped on the All Blacks scoreline for most of the second half and the Tusker's Tak narrowly missing an equaliser, there was no adrenalin abatement in the Kiwi camp. Ultimately brawn overcame beauty, and the Tuskers gracefully conceded a 2-1 defeat.

In the afternoon's other games, final results were out of kilter with the pundits expectations of evenly balanced scorelines from equally matched teams of experienced horse polo players. Though deserving of their wins, score differentials didn't do justice to the nip and tuck battles fought on the field, with Chivas Regal going down 6-1 to Thailand's Mobile Easy and Australia's Sandalford cruising to an 8-0 victory over Mullis Capital.

Sandalford's Greg Johnson, Peter Prendiville and Nick Bowen kept the pressure on a plucky Mullis side but their fluency, strategy and execution kept Mullis away from their goal line. Against Chivas Regal, Thailand's Mobile Easy turned every opportunity to gold, with Omsin Pratummalee playing out of his seat. Chivas' Peter Prentice took the art of generosity to new levels with his monster miss on a sitter, a goal which had it bounced over the line could have given the Scots renewed energy.

In other matches, Bangkok Bank Ladies won 3-2 over DBS Ladies, Mercedes Benz pummelled British Airways 13-2, American Express went down 3-1 to Scottish St Andrew's House and Australia's Element had a convincing 4-1 win over Kuoni UK.

Today's games start at 9am with the PricewaterhouseCoopers All Blacks against Sandalford Winery.

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