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Team Maserati wins final after close fight

The Maserati Metropolitan Polo Classic 2013 final match was played yesterday at Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club. Team Maserati with Bautista Sorzana (+6), Matias Zavaleta (+6), Gonzalo Bourdieu (+6) and Gonzalo Azumendi (+6) prevailed against Team Fortune Heights with Pablo Jauretche (+7), Tommy Wilson (+7), Lucas Lalor (+6) and John Fisher (+4), winning 8-6. In the match for third place the previous day Team Fipa Group defeated Team Ficofi by 11-10.
The first chukka began with a strong start for Team Fortune Heights, who scored two goals in the first minute, before their opponents had even played the ball. What followed was a rapid and exhausting back and forth, with no further goals until Team Maserati’s Gonzalo Azumendi finally scored late in the chukka. After the first chukka had ended with a relatively low score of 2-1 in favour of Team Fortune Heights, it remained unclear as to which team was gaining momentum in the second chukka. Only one goal was scored, this time by Team Maserati’s defensive player Bautista Sorzana, who after rushing, ahead of a powerful 70-yard forward drive made by teammate Matias Zavaleta, and then cut the ball in from just in front of the goal.
A clear lead was again elusive during the third chukka, although there were signs that the game was turning. Team Maserati’s Gonzalo Bourdieu demonstrated his superior forward power, making a massive swing from near the centre-line that took the ball into the Team Fortune Heights goal area. Despite several attempts by the Team Fortune Heights defence to turn the ball around, Bourdieu caught up, and succeeded in knocking the ball through the goal at full gallop. Gonzalo Azumendi added another goal for Team Maserati, but Team Fortune Heights’ John Fisher managed to take one back with eight seconds left to play. Going into half-time, the score was 4-3 in favour of Team Maserati.
The fourth chukka was again challenging for both teams. Team Fortune Heights did not succeed in putting a goal through, despite taking play into the Team Maserati goal area on multiple occasions. Gonzalo Bourdieu scored the only goal, on a shot so powerful that Team Fortune Heights’ Pablo Juaretche was not able to deflect it, despite a very fast defensive block that made contact with the ball.
Bautista Sorzana added a goal, only 17 seconds into the fifth chukka, but then it appeared that Team Fortune Heights might be taking back the momentum. John Fisher, shifting from defence to offense, took his third goal of the match, and then in the final 30 seconds initiated a sequence of play that was an outstanding example of excellence in teamwork. Fisher, making a hit in from the backline made a powerful 60 yard lofted shot, sending the ball to teammate Tommy Wilson who took the ball, survived a Team Maserati ride-off, and passed across field to Lucas Lalor, who in turn passed to Pablo Juaretche, allowing him the honour of cutting into the goal. The sixth chukka started with Team Maserati still enjoying a one-goal lead, and then proceeding to add another two goals. Team Fortune Heights added one goal, this time from Tommy Wilson. The final score was 8-6 in favour of Team Maserati.
Matias Zavaleta: “We have been made so welcome here in Tianjin, rarely have we seen a polo club with facilities like these, we have enjoyed both polo and luxury living during our stay here”.
The four teams invited to play in this year’s tournament consisted of world-class players from Argentina, Chile, England, Italy, New Zealand and Spain, and included celebrated names from distinguished polo families, such as Tomas Pieres (+7) and Sebastian Harriott (+6). Each team played with a 24-goal handicap, which both establishes this as the highest level invitational tournament ever played in China, and also places Tianjin in a prominent position on the world polo calendar. The award ceremony was held on the polo field immediately after the game, with a representative of Maserati presenting the winning team with the Maserati Metropolitan Polo Classic Cup.

The standings:
1. Maserati (+24)
Bautista Sorzana (+6)
Matias Zavaleta (+6)
Gonzalo Bourdieu (+6)
Gonzalo Azumendi (+6)
2. Fortune Heights (+24)
Pablo Jauretche (+7)
Tommy Wilson (+7)
Lucas Lalor (+6)
John Fisher (+4)
3. Fipa Group (+24)
Fernando Bourdieu (+6)
Craig Wilson (+6)
Sebastian Harriott (+6)
Matias Vial (+6)
4. Ficofi (+24)
Tomas Pieres (+7)
Diego Araya (+7)
Valerio Zubiaurre (+7)
Ramon Castilla (+3)

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