For the first time ever, international polo greats Ronnie Tongg and Stuart Mackenzie played together and, in a dazzling performance at Anini Polo Field last Sunday, led their Island Hardware team to a 6-2 victory over Coldwell Banker/Bali Hai.
It was a duel between emerging young professionals Max Secunda and Peter Ganibi playing for Bali Hai and Tongg and Mackenzie. In the end, the vast experience of the latter two showed clearly.
Island Hardware sponsor Terry Caplan tossed in the ball to open the first of four chukkers.
The match was off to a fast start as Mackenzie cleared with a sweet shot almost to goal that was backed by Ganibi.
After Mackenzie sent a ball over the end line, Ganibi’s knock in was a powerful offside forehand drive that rocketed the ball down the field.
Mackenzie picked it up, and he and Ganibi engaged in some serious stick work vying for control.
Ganibi came away with the ball and attempted to set up a scoring play with Secunda.
Unfortunately Secunda’s shot went over the end line. Mackenzie took the knock in with a shot that blasted the ball almost the length of the field where both teams bunched around the ball.
Tongg moved the ball from the melee and sent it to Mackenzie. With a dramatic move he slammed the ball between the pylons to put the first score on the board for Island Hardware.
Although the toss in was cleared by Secunda, Tongg and Mackenzie took over. The second period began with social member Tom Trombley, representing all fathers on Father’s Day, tossing in the ball.
Mackenzie cleared, and with some pretty slick support from Tongg zipped down the field to score. Ganibi has the determination of a bulldog and doesn’t give up.
He kept sparring with Mackenzie with hard riding, hooking, and bumping.
A toss in was cleared by Mackenzie with a shot to Tongg who just kept going to put up a score.
Tongg and Ganibi engaged in some hard riding and bumping which made the spectators wonder whether Tongg would go flying off his pony.
But Tongg, Mackenzie and John Elwin put up a defense that prevented Bali Hai from scoring.
In the third period good teamwork between Peter Cameron and Ganibi made it possible for Max Secunda to put up the first score for Bali Hai.
A penalty 5 was called against Island Hardware. Secunda took the penalty shot with a power drive picked up by Mackenzie who moved the ball to Tongg.
With brilliant strategy they worked through the traffic and Mackenzie scored again.
The fourth chukker opened with Elwin clearing to Tongg who lost the ball to Ganibi.
In a masterful demonstration of riding and ball control, Secunda got out ahead of the pack and raced down the length of the field all alone to score for Bali Hai.
There was a time out for a tack problem. Shortly after play resumed a safety was called against Island Hardware. Ganibi took the penalty shot trying to avoid Tongg.
In a dramatic play, Tongg fired a powerful forehand shot on goal which was just wide but Mackenzie was positioned alongside the pylon and stopped the shot with his mallet about one foot short of the end line.
He then tapped the ball inside the pylon and over the goal line for the final score.
Teams: Coldwell Banker/Bali Hai Realty: Peter Cameron, Max Secunda, Peter Ganibi, Scott Sims. Island Hardware: John Elwin, Ronnie Tongg, Stuart Mackenzie. Umpire: Kamalu Sheldon.
Tournament Polo continues at Anini Field on Sunday at 3 p.m. The public is welcome. Adults $10. per person; 12-18, $5. per person. Club matches are played on Friday at 4 p.m.