Crownthorpe farmer and viticulturist Pete Hyslop may have been a late starter when it comes to polo but his name is unlikely to be forgotten well after he leaves the code.

Hyslop, 53, who is in his third year of polo, scored the match-winning goal in Hawke's Bay's 4-3 win against South Africa at Elwood Park, Hastings on Saturday. While the No 1 player who plays off a -1 handicap deserved all the kudos which flowed his way after the victory, he was quick to share it with his teammates.

"Bill [Glazebrook] tapped it towards me after Cody [Jones] missed the penalty attempt," Hyslop recalled.

"While it was nice to get one I should have had one earlier on, too."

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Hyslop can't thank his good mate Jonty Apatu enough for introducing him to polo.

"I'm loving it. It's like a breath of fresh air for me ... definitely more addictive than work. Horse hunts were my only other previous form of sport."

"South Africa gave us a hell of a game today. They were a bit unlucky as they missed more goals than us. But when you are in a four-goal team taking on a six-goal team it is always nice to win," Hyslop explained.

He wanted to make the most of Saturday's match as he didn't anticipate playing for the Central Districts Selection against the South Africans in Hastings this Saturday.

"I'm lending six of my horses to the South Africans so I'm not going to nominate myself. But I'll play if I get asked," Hyslop added.

Hyslop was right about the tourists missing more shots. They missed seven of 10 attempts at goal while Hawke's Bay missed three of their seven attempts.

The South Africans hadn't played since September and this was evident during a messy first chukka. They missed three attempts at a penalty before No 1 player Brett Chubb opened the scoring with a field goal.

Busy Hawke's Bay No 2 Ollie Jones tied the score with a 30-yard open goal penalty. South Africa's strong defensive work continued in the second chukka when the hosts were restricted to one attempt.

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South Africa led 2-1 after the second chukka following a goal from No 2 Andrew Gilson after superb buildup work from Chubb. Ollie Jones scored the equaliser early in the third chukka after a clever assist from Hyslop.

The Bay's other English import, No 3 Cody Jones, put the hosts ahead for the first time with a field goal. Chubb tied the game up with a field goal after the 30 second bell in the third chukka.

South Africa missed four attempts at goal in the fourth chukka before Hyslop added the latest chapter to international polo in the Bay.

South Africa captain and No 3 Don McHardy admitted his troops were "rusty and slow".

"We rushed things. We need to be a bit more composed and spend a bit more time on the ball."

"But in saying that they [Hawke's Bay] played very well."

For McHardy, 47, who breeds polo ponies back home, it was his first game of polo for 12 months.

"I broke a shoulder and ribs on both sides when I got squashed by a horse in a polo accident," he said.

While McHardy was full of praise for the high level of hospitality his party is receiving from the Hawke's Bay polo fraternity, he refused to use it as an excuse for the loss. His teams plays a Rangitikei selection on Thursday before returning to Hastings for Saturday's match against the Central Districts Selection.

The CD team will be selected from players who turned out for Hawke's Bay, Wanstead and Rangitikei against the tourists.