Aron Hariela added his name to the Land Rover Duke of Cornwall Trophy for the second time on Sunday after his team found a golden goal to win. In a thrilling and tight game against Kola Karim's Shoreline, Harilela won this high-goal final 6-5 in extra time.
Andrew Robb, a Director of Jaguar Land Rover, presented Aron with the trophy, which he had previously won in 2011. Thanks to Land Rover's sponsorship of this 16-goal tournament, Aron also received the keys to Land Rover's hospitality box at Twickenham, so allowing him and some 20+ guests to enjoy a Rugby Championship final game featuring Argentina v Australia in October, surely one of the best patron prizes in polo.
It was clear this game might go to extra time from the first chukka. These teams were so evenly matched that there were no goals at all in the first seven minutes. However, the many spectators, including a group of Land Rover guests who earlier that day had experienced a learn to play with the Guards Polo Academy on The Queen's Ground, were treated to a wonderfully flowing game of polo, barely interrupted by the umpires' whistles. In fact, there were more whistles in the final minute of the fourth chukka than in the rest of the game combined!
Shoreline's Santiago de Estrada, later named Land Rover's Most Valuable Player, found the flags first in the second chukka. Then picking up a lovely pass from Federico Boudou, he quickly made it 2-0. Harilela's Manuel Fernandez Llorente converted a penalty just before half-time to get his team on the scoreboard, but at the break Shoreline had the advantage.
Isidro Strada shot the equaliser from the first throw-in of the third, following that up with another goal to put Harilela ahead for the first time. Federico levelled again after a couple of minutes of uninterrupted, up-and-down polo. Tommy Beresford, recently named the Hurlingham Polo Association's Best Young Player of the Year, then showed why he was given this award with some confident, tap tap play to goal with only seconds left on the clock. Tommy was later awarded the Land Rover Best Playing Pony prize for his father Lord Charles Beresford's nine-year-old mare Julieta. Tommy's mother Lady Teresa Beresford was particularly delighted with this award as Julieta's sire is Rector, who was previously owned and played by her late brother, the great Chilean international Gabriel Donoso.
So Harilela had the edge (4-3) going into the fourth and final chukka only for Santiago to score from the throw-in for Shoreline. Tensions started to show now and the umpires suddenly had some work to do. Harilela converted a penalty only for Federico Boudou to do the same. Then with just a minute left on the clock Shoreline were given a technical at the throw-in, allowing Harilela a crucial free hit. They were then awarded a 60-yard penalty as Shoreline were not 30 yards from the players when the free hit was taken. There were now only seconds left of this game and the pressure showed when Manuel Fernandez Llorente uncharacteristically hit the penalty wide.
So much to the delight of the crowd it was now extra time and golden goal scenario. One minute in and a melee in the Shoreline goal saw Hariela shoot through the winning goal.
The sub final was more clear cut with Rhys Cole's Gales team, one of nine squads that had entered this high-goal competition, defeating Mark Wadhwa's Oakley Court 8-4. Although Gales were dominant in this game, this match was much closer than the final score demonstrated and the spectators appreciated another competitive, fast-paced final on the Club's top ground.
Harilela: Aron Harilela (1); Tommy Beresford (40; Isidro Strada (5); Manuel Fernandez Llorente (6). Shoreline: Kola Karim (0); Federico Boudou (4); Alfredo Bigatti (6); Santiago De Estrada (6).
Gales: Alejandro Novillo Astrada (8); Cruz Novillo Astrada (2); William Emerson (5); Rhys Cole (1). Oakley Court: Mark Wadhwa (0); Chris Hyde (6); Alejandro Muzzio (7); Hernan Muzzio (3).