The RSPC Open was a fantastic tournament, played at the Royal Selangor Polo Club and on the brilliant new field at Taman Ekuestrian Putrajaya. Five teams were entered for the tournament, and after qualfying play where every team played each other, Royal Pahang and Thai Polo qualified for the final with the best results.
Thai Polo started the better in the final, racing out to a two goal lead in the first chukka. Both goals were scored by Raul Laplacette, who was the engine in Thai Polo’s midfield.
Royal Pahang came back in the second chukka as Tomas Fernandez Llorente and Matias Vial caught fire. Matias scored twice and Amran Selamta also got a goal as Royal Pahang came back to take the lead from Thai Polo. The first half ended with Royal Pahang leading Thai :Polo 3-2.
In the third chukka, a 40 yarder was well converted by Tomi Llorente to give Royal Pahang their fourth unanswered goal and a two goal lead.
The fourth chukka started with a safety 60 yarder for Thai Polo. Having missed a couple of 60’s the pressure was on Raul Laplacette, but he took his chance well, powering it through to bring it back to a one goal game.
There was dogged defending from both sides, each nullifying the other, each attack thwarted at the last second. It looked like Royal Pahang was going to hang on.
Then, with 36 seconds left in the match, Raul Laplacette got the ball in his own half. Despite the urging of the clubhouse and his team mates, he took his time in carrying it to the goal. With only six seconds left on the clock, he burst through the blockers and ran the ball thought the goal.
It took the game into sudden death overtime with the scores tied at 4 apiece.
The first half chukka of sudden death was full of exciting play. Royal Pahang came closest but Tomi Llorente dragged his near side neck shot across the face of the goal.
SEA Games star Abdul Rashid Hasnan had a great chance to win it for Royal Pahang, but could not finish it off.
It was fitting that the last high goal game of the season went down to a full supplementary sudden death chukka. It has been a really good season with four of the five teams very close in quality. A penalty shootout would have been next on the cards, but Dato’ Harald Link suggested that neither team deserved to lose on penalties. Both teams decided to share the cup.
Amran Selamat, who had an excellent game at back for Royal Pahang was voted Most Valuable Player.
Clodoveo, an 8 year old Chestnut Argentine Gelding, played by Tomas Llorente and owned by Royal Pahang, took Best Playing Pony honours.
Both were decided by vote by the umpires Daniel Boudou, Ben Turner, and Tournament Director Peter Abisheganaden.
Dato’ Harald Link’s Thai Polo had another amazing season, winning the RMPA International League for a fourth consecutive year and 7th time in the 13 seasons the league has been running.