Epic. That’s the only word to describe what La Natividad achieved at Palermo. They had the difficult task of facing one of the best teams of polo history – La Dolfina Saudi, an organisation that has eight consecutive Argentine Open wins under their belt. But that was not a problem for Castagnola brothers Barto and Jeta, Polito Pieres, and Nachi du Plessis. La Natividad gave a brilliant performance on Palermo’s number ground one, leading them to claim the most prestigious title of the sport – the Argentine Open – following a 15-13 win over La Dolfina Saudi.
La Natividad is a remarkable team – Barto and Jeta, so different in their style of play, but equally talented; Polito Pieres, who was arguably at the peak of his career; and Nachi du Plessis, who has done an impressive job as a back. La Dolfina Saudi, however, remains a legend. They were dominated by their contenders, but they never gave up. Even when La Natividad’s speed dominated, they managed to bounce back. One thing is for sure – regardless of whether the team changes (Alejandro Muzzio had to sub in for the injured Diego Cavanagh), La Dolfina Saudi is always ready to give battle. They were unable to defeat La Natividad today, but they are still a force to be reckoned with.
In terms of the final, La Natividad, who remained in the lead throughout the eight chukkas, got off to a stronger start, securing an impressive 3-1 advantage in the first chukka. La Dolfina Saudi made it 4-all in the second, but La Natividad outscored them 2-0 in the following chukka, widening their advantage to 6-4 thanks to Jeta Castagnola. Alejandro Muzzio scored for La Dolfina Saudi at the start of the fourth, but La Natividad were off to the races. Jeta Castagnola converted three penalties, and Barto scored a fantastic goal at the end of the chukka. By half time, La Natividad were 9-5 up.
After such a superb chukka, the fifth almost saw no goals, but in the last minutes, La Natividad’s Jeta Castagnola and La Dolfina Saudi’s Fran Elizalde sharpened their attack. La Natividad held onto a 10-6 lead. There was still a long way to go, however. It seemed like La Natividad had the situation under control, but it wasn’t over yet. In the seventh chukka, when La Dolfina Saudi were 7-11 down, Pelón Stirling and Alejandro Muzzio scored to narrow the gap and keep their hopes alive. But those hopes were killed following two spectacular goals by Barto Castagnola, which meant that La Natividad regain the four goal advantage with only one chukka remaining.
The drama came in the the last chukka. Adolfo Cambiaso scored twice – one penalty and one field goal – with two minutes on the clock. Then Polito Pieres scored for La Natividad, but Fran Elizalde replied quickly. This meant that La Dolfina Saudi were within a goal (13-14) with just a few minutes left in regulation time. But Jeta did it again – he picked up a lost ball from Polito and ran at full speed towards the goal to score his 47th goal of the tournament. The final bell rang and La Natividad were 15-13 up. The boys in green scored their first ever Argentine Open title. Surely the first of many to come.
In 2020, when they played their first complete Triple Crown, La Natividad didn’t perform that well in the Open. In 2021, however, they improved their attitude and performance, leading them to win their first major title: the Hurlingham Open. A week later, they suffered an unexpected loss against Chapaleufu in their debut match at Palermo. The loss, however, gave them the strength they needed to go all the way. They faced the legend that is La Dolfina Saudi with a cool head and won the title.
La Natividad, created by Lolo and his wife, Camila Cambiaso, has made its mark in the big leagues. Not only do the four members have undisputed skills, but behind this very achievement, there is a lot of work, effort, dedication and full time commitment, as well as key values and principles that are important both in the sport and in life.