New Zealand booked their place in the final of the FIP World Polo Championships in Sydney, in October by beating Malaysia in the FIP World Cup Zone D Playoff held at the Thai Polo & Equestrian Club in Pattaya, Thailand on Thursday, 2nd February.
The game got off to a furious start. The very first play of the day saw New Zealand’s Henry Jones fail to avoid a fast-moving goal-post. A cut on his cheek delayed the game for a few minutes before the bleeding was staunched and an elastoplast applied. Malaysia’s Saladin Mazlan was next to inspect the turf, as a collision with the flying Henry Jones meant another delay, not three minutes into the game.
As the game settled down, it was the New Zealand team that took control. Three goals in the first, meant they led Malaysia 3 – 1 1/2 after the opening chukka. The two teams traded goals in the second chukka, ending it with the Kiwis leading 4 – 2 1/2.
Malaysia mounted a superb comeback in the third chukka, getting within half a goal. The game was poised 5 – 4 1/2 as the teams went into the half time break.
New Zealand captain Cody Forsyth came to the fore in the penultimate chukka, scoring two goals and making another for Henry Jones. Amran Selamat got a goal back for the Malaysians, but at 8 – 5 1/2 the writing was on the wall.
Malaysia fought on valiantly in the final chukka. They peppered the New Zealand goal, hitting the post and missing narrowly on quite a few occasions, but the ball would not go in.
A fourth goal for Henry Jones sealed the win for New Zealand. The 9 – 5 1/2 did not tell the story of what a close and exciting game it was, for much of the match.
Cody Forsyth, a veteran of the game at age 57, was named Most Valuable Player, selected by the umpires Daniel Boudou, Steve Evans, referee Ben Turner, FIP President Nicholas Colquhoun Denvers and Zone D Director Peter Prendiville.
Dogo, and 8 year old Argentine gelding owned by Dato’ Mohamed Moiz and played by Henry Jones, was selected as the best playing pony.
New Zealand: Henry Wood 2, Henry Jones 3, Cody Forsyth 4, Glenn Sheriff 5. Total: 14.
Malaysia: Shaik Raismann 3, Amran Selamat 3, HH Prince Ahmad Shazril 3, Saladin Mazlan 3. Total: 12.
Score New Zealand: (0-1.5) 3-1.5, 4-2.5, 5-4.5, 8-5.5, 9-5.5.
Photo courtesy of Pololine.