The second semi-final, the first game to be played on The Duke’s Ground in 2012, saw Ayala defeat EFG Bank Aravali 11-8 in a lovely, flowing game. This was a much closer affair for much of the match with Marcos Di Paola proving really strong in defence for the EFG Bank Aravali team, who are only in their second year of high-goal. In comparison, Ayala is really the Ellerston team in all but name as Inigo Zobel has taken on the patronage in the absence of Jamie Packer for this competition. So this side can field some really impressive horsepower, as well as the 10-goal skills of Gonzalito Pieres. This pony power began to come to the fore in the fifth with devastating effects, especially when a crucial Aravali penalty was saved. Although Mark Tomlinson scored in this chukka, the momentum had clearly turned.
Ayala confirmed their superiority at the start of the sixth and final chukka when Pieres successfully converted a penalty, to give Ayala a 10-7 lead with only minutes left to play. EFG Bank Aravali had no intention of giving up without a fight and Di Paola almost immediately successfully converted a penalty to keep his team’s hopes alive too.
However Pieres’s penalty taking was accurate and he found the flags once more to give Ayala a win, a place in Sunday’s Cartier Queen’s Cup Final and enable his Zobel to receive the Hubert Perrodo Trophy from Carrie Perrodo. Eduardo Novillo Astrada of EFG Bank Aravali was named Most Valuable Player and one of his mares received the Best Playing Pony Prize.
Francois Le Troquer of Cartier and Carrie Perrodo with the Ayala team after they had won the Hubert Perrodo Trophy and a place in Sunday's final (Images of Polo)