Woolly Bullies (Erin, Max and Jono) and Tom departed Brisbane and road-tripped to Timaru via a quick tour of Canterbury (South Island, New Zealand). We were on a journey to the Australasian Championships 2013 where 35 teams would compete for spots at this year’s Worlds in Florida.
First off we had a poke around in Christchurch (they’re still very much recovering from the quake, but the city still has it’s charm) and randomly bumped into a bunch of polo players who work at the Chain Reaction there. Aaron was incredibly helpful with sorting out my rear wheel (FUBARed), I still owe you a 6 pack mate.
Erin, Tom and I then went to collect Max from the airport and started our epic mini-tour of the island: Akoroa, Lake Tekapo, Mount Cook and then to Timaru. We were in awe of the scenery and started to wish we’d booked a longer trip, alas there was a tournament to be played…
Upon arrival in Timaru it was apparent that the bike polo scene there are VERY organised: three perfect courts (boards and surface), bleachers, generators, marquees, ref chairs, bike racks, food/drink areas, mechanic, floodlights, PA system, internet, big screen, the works! Friday was spent playing some awesome throw-ins in preparation for the weekend of games: two group stages on Saturday and then on to double-elim for Sunday.
Saturday’s games went pretty well, we were in the morning bracket and achieved three wins, two draws and a loss to place us 6th overall. Dog Soccer (Sydney), Triple Dutch Rudders (Brisbane) and Trirangle (Brisbane) took first to third and played very well all morning.
The afternoon group was topped by NASFWG (Perth with Irish Stevie) who were playing very well together. Melbourne Anchor (Melbourne with Cosmic Mat) took second and we were stoked to discover that our buddies Majestic Pink Shafts (Brisbane) took third.
After a night of (marginally restrained) debauchery everyone surfaced on Sunday to start the elimination games. We were sad to see Trirangle go so soon by losing their first two games, unfortunately their fixed gear drivetrains and the wet courts of the morning didn’t go well together (they’d had an awesome day on Saturday). NASFWG were dominating the winner’s bracket with awesome (fast) bike control, calm/committed heads and some decisive shooting. Dog Soccer and Triple Dutch Rudders were also playing well. Unfortunately Majestic Pink Shafts and ourselves were on a collision course, it sucks to compete against your friends so early… we lost on golden goal and took a fall into the loser’s bracket, oops.
The tournament was running really well and was a big step up (apparently) from previous AHBPCs. We were calming down a little in the loser’s bracket after our loss, only to realise we had to play MPS again (after a couple of wins) as they lost to Melbourne Anchor in the winner’s bracket, gah. It was another close game but this time we won on golden goal. Unfortunately Erin broke her wrist during the game… not so good! Triple Dutch Rudders went on to beat Dog Soccer and NASFWG went on to beat Melbourne Anchor in the winner’s bracket. Our next game was to be against Christchurch C4, Erin was strapped up and we jumped back on court.
Christchurch C4 were a joy to play and definitely had the crowd’s support behind them. They played a solid defensive game that kept Max and I’s shots at bay. An iffy post call awarded Christchurch an equalising goal and we were in a golden goal situation (again). Max and I got caught too high and Andy capitalised with another cracking long-shot. It was a disappointing loss, but realistically we couldn’t of gone much further as Erin was stuck in goal (and hurting).
We joined the (jubilant) crowd just as the rain started to descend. Christchurch C4 beat Dog Soccer in a very entertaining game: Andy was earning a reputation as a sharp shooter and Christchurch C4 were starting to have an air of Portland United about them (big guys that took their time a little, but converted most opportunities into goals). Despite another exciting game, Christchurch C4 didn’t have what it took to beat Melbourne Anchor (with Cosmic Mat putting away the goals when it counted).
Melbourne Anchor then went on to beat Triple Dutch Rudders in the pouring rain to take on NASFWG in the final. Unfortunately the court was flooded by this point and the game was something of a farce. Regardless NASFWG deserved their 5-0 win and cemented their position as undefeated champions of the event.
Everyone went a little bonkers in the rain before heading to the after party. There was rumour of Timaru putting a bid in for the Worlds (they are definitely capable if people are willing to travel) and everyone reminisced about the weekend that was.
Sunday we travelled back to Christchurch and a large bunch of players had an excellent meal out together before Woolly Bullies went back to their hostel (with jacuzzi no less) in the city. It was a great trip and despite finishing 7th (and Erin’s broken wrist) we had an awesome time together… it was Max’s first tournament and he is definitely destined to go on to great things!
Thanks for such an awesome tournament Timaru, you nailed it. Below is a video of the trip, sorry we didn’t get much footage of NASFWG (and others), my phone died pretty early on and Erin’s started playing up in the rain.
All images from the Timaru Facebook page.