Argentine Polo Open: La Natividad narrowly beats La Dolfina

The team led by the Castagnola brothers beat the defending champions to claim its second title of the season

La Natividad won the 130th Argentine Polo Open in Palermo after beating La Dolfina 13-10. The world’s premier polo tournament offered its best with a dramatic final which saw both sides vying for the lead. In the end, the team led by the Castagnola brothers clinched the title.

Despite being the better side for most of the game, it was a roller coaster for La Natividad. The team struggled to build a solid lead early on, committing several fouls and failing to make the best of some of their chances. For defending champion La Dolfina — which won 15 of the last 22 titles — the hopes lay with Adolfo “Poroto” Cambiaso’s inspired game, son and teammate of 18-time winner Adolfo Cambiaso.

The fourth chukker finished with a 7-6 lead to La Natividad after trading the lead early on.  It was only in the second half of the game that a clear winner started to emerge, with the Castagnola brothers’ team wrapping up the sixth chukker 10-7 ahead.

18-time winner Adolfo Cambiaso couldn’t add another title to his collection
Photo: AAP

The answer would come in the seventh chukker. “Poroto” Cambiaso and David Stirling — who enjoyed the support of a fierce contingent from his native Uruguay in the stands — tied it 10-10. However, La Dolfina would simply run out of steam, unable to answer another push by La Natividad in the final seven minutes of the game.

Such was La Natividad’s drive that Facundo Pieres crossed between the posts with the ball scoring the final 13-10 goal to a roaring celebration from the stands as the final bell went.

“We knew it’d be a hard-fought game,” said Bartolomé Castagnola, whose father founded the team. “The rival was La Dolfina, and against them, it’s always difficult, but we believed in ourselves and we’re happy for the win.”

“The game was up for grabs. We were feeling good up until the seventh chukker and then they tied it,” he said during the press conference. “But after that, we kept cool heads and that’s what you need to win, and it came our way.”

La Natividad proved a worthy champion. Left to right Bartolomé Castagnola, Pablo Mac Donough, Camilo Castagnola and Facundo Pieres.
Photo: Fernando Romero Nuñez (Buenos Aires Herald)

“I dedicate this to my family, who always supported me,” said Pieres, who joined La Natividad this season and thanked the Castagnola brothers for the opportunity. “I’m probably forgetting somebody, so I just want to dedicate this to anyone who’s happy for me.”

“There were many hard years without achieving the win,” added Pieres who won the Argentine Polo Open in 2012 but finished runner-up to Cambiaso’s team nine times. “It took a toll on me, so I’m happy to live this again.”

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