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Turner's brilliance leads Jamaica to close victory
Orville Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Thanks to a hat-trick of goals from Rachael Turner, Jamaica pulled off a close 4-3 1/2 victory over Zimbabwe in the opening match of the annual Tri-Nation Ladies Polo tournament at the Kingston Polo Club, Caymanas Estates yesterday.
Jamaica will oppose the United States in their second match at the same venue tomorrow, starting at 4:30 p.m., while Zimbabwe will take on the United States in a do-or-die encounter on Thursday at Chukka Blue, Sandy Bay, in Hanover, starting at 4:30 p.m.
The top two teams will meet in the final on Saturday, February 12, at the St Ann Polo Club, Drax Hall.
In yesterday's match, played over four chukkas, Jamaica were forced to come from behind twice. But Turner was absolutely brilliant and her performance made the difference.
However, that is not to say that her teammates Lesley Ann Fong Yee (captain), Michele Subaran and Susan Wates did not play well as a team. They all provided good support, but for this game, Turner was in a class by herself.
Zimbabwe, getting a half goal handicap from the higher-ranked Jamaican team, drew first blood midway the first chukka when skipper Sherri-Lyn Hensman scored a 30-yard penalty, to take a 1 1/2-goal lead.
Jamaica struck back with a brilliant solo run from Fong Yee, who under pressure from an opponent, took the ball in front of the goal where Subaran, following through, tapped it in to make it 1 1/2 to 1.
Then came the Rachael Turner show; the 25-year-year-old blonde giving Jamaica the lead in the second chukka, then followed up with another goal that was fantastic in its execution.
Riding hard from the northern end, she carried the ball throughout the length of the entire field before flicking it across the line to the amazement of the fair-sized crowd.
In the end. Jamaica held on to win by half a point.
Hensman scored twice for Zimbabwe, whose team was completed by Hilary Campbell, Leonora De Ferranti and Diana Jack.
Fong Yee said winning the first match was crucial and she was looking forward to the next game against the USA.
"We started out a bit tight, but settled down after the first chukka," she said. "I thought we played well as a team, but if I were to single out anyone it would have to be Rachael, who was truly brilliant," added Fong Yee.
Members of the winning team were presented with Golden Kaan South African wines from a private collection by Raihn Sibblies, brand manager J. Wray & Nephew Wines.
Meanwhile, prior to the feature match, an ICWI team led by Paul Lalor and including Mitta Rousseau, Pieter Barrow and Jonothan Dougall, won the Kingston inter-club polo championship contested by three teams.