Royal Johor Polo Club made a triumphant return to RMPA polo, winning the RMPA Merdeka League Tournament at the Royal Pahang Polo Club yesterday. Led by HRH Tengku Mahkota Johor, Tengku Major Ismail Ibrahim, Royal Johor dominated the final against home club Royal Pahang Polo Club, winning 6 – 4 ½.
Both teams had fought their way to the final with 4 and 0 records, with Royal Johor racking up huge scores in their qualifying games.
RJPC 1 had defeated Kiara Polo 11-1, Ranhill-Dhanaz 11 – 3½, and Bunga Raya 10 – 2½ in group play. They then were drawn against RJPC 2 in the semi-finals, and easily defeated them 6 – 3.
Tengku Dato’ Uzir’s Royal Pahang Polo Club team were just as impressive in group play, beating RJPC 3 4 -2, Terengganu Polo Club 4 – 2½ and Apocalypse 9 – 5. Royal Pahang then defeated Santa Marissa 7 – 3 in their semi-final to set up a battle royal in the final against Royal Johor.
During the tournament RJPC 1 was rehandicapped as +4 team, taking them outside the Merdeka League handicap limit of +1. While they did not score any Merdeka League points, Royal Johor’s emphatic victory served to highlight what Malaysian polo has missed for the last twelve years as Royal Johor played only on their home field and abroad, but not in the rest of Malaysia’s tournaments.
His Majesty, the Sultan of Johor was in Pekan to watch the finals. Earlier, he watched his second son HRH Tengku Abdul Rahman’s RJPC 2 team easily defeat Santa Marissa 4 to 1½.
The final itself was a bit of an anticlimax. So much was expected of Royal Johor 1 that it was almost impossible to live up to. The rain which had forced the postponement from Saturday to Sunday meant that the going was yielding, with quite a lot of cut in the ground, making it difficult for Royal Pahang’s Amran Selamat and HRH Tengku Mahkota Johor to play their normal game of close control, with their normally excellent stickwork affected by the ground.
Royal Pahang received 2½ goals on handicap at the start of the match. HRH Tengku Mahkota Johor reduced the deficit with two penalty goals in the first chukka. RJPC 1 got their noses in front at the end of the second chukka as Amran gave away a simple tap-in penalty, which Tengku Mahkota Johor duly converted.
RJPC 1 drew away to a 5 – 2½ lead in the third chukka before Royal Pahang finally scored one. Amran added another in the final chukka before Tengku Mahkota Johor sealed a famous victory with an emphatically struck 30 yard penalty conversion.
RJPC1's Zubir (pictured above right in the black helmet with HRH Tengku Mahkota Johor in the blue helmet) was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament. His combination play and tough man-marking won him the recognition of his peers. It also enabled his patron, HRH Tengku Mahkota Johor to win the prize as the top-scorer of the tournament.
Royal Johor was triumphantly cheered by the many supporters who traveled to Pekan for the final. They hoisted HRH Tengku Mahkota Johor on their shoulders after the win over Royal Pahang Polo Club.
~ credit to www.equestrian.com.my