Ranchi, February 19: Jaypee Punjab Warriors came from a goal down to eke out a hard-fought 3-2 win over defending champions Ranchi Rhinos to finish on top of the points table of the second edition of Hero Hockey India League (HHIL) at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Ranchi today.
The win gave Jaypee Punjab Warriors five points to take their tally to 40 points from 10 games ahead of Delhi Waveriders (39 points).
Ranchi Rhinos finished their league engagements at the fourth spot with 26 points from 10 matches.
Ranchi Rhinos started on a positive note and broke the deadlock in the 14th minute through their first penalty corner which was ably converted by captain Moritz Furste.
Jaypee Punjab Warriors drew parity in the 21st minute when Sandeep Singh converted their second penalty corner with a high drag-flick that beat Rhino goalie Francisco Cortes all ends up.
The visitors had a bright chance to surge ahead in the 27th minute through legendary Australian striker Jamie Dwyer but his shot from close range from a rebound was kept at bay by an alert Cortes in Ranchi Rhinos goal.
But it didn’t take long for Jaypee Punjab Warriors to take the lead as Australia Kieran Govers converted hi side’s third penalty corner in the 30th minute to go into halftime with a 2-1 led.
Ranchi Rhinos drew level in the 40th minute level when Ashley Jackson made use of a penalty corner with a high flick to the left corner of Ranchi Rhinos goal.
But Sandeep scored another goal from a penalty corner in the 52nd minute to restore Jaypee Punjab Warriors lead and become the top scorer in the tournament with nine goals.
Ranchi Rhinos got a bright chance to equalize when they earned another penalty corner but this time Jackson’s attempt was denied by Jaap Stockmann in Warriors goal.
Speaking to the media post the match, Jamie Dwyer, Captain of Jaypee Punjab Warriors said, “It always feels good to win. Saturday will be a tough game because Ranchi Rhinos will surely come back stronger. They have great players and we will have to put double our strength to stop them in semi finals.”
Barry Dancer, Coach of Jaypee Punjab Warriors said, “It was a good game to win and yes its very much advantageous to enter the semi finals on a winning note. It feels great to finish the league by being on the top of the points table. This win will make us confident and we will perform our best against Ranchi in semis. It will be a tough game and we will play our best and try to win and enter the finals.”
Gregg Clark, Coach of Ranchi Rhinos said, “We did not play well in certain parts of the game and that cost us heavy today. We are playing against Jaypee Punjab Warriors again on Saturday in the semi finals. We will try to beat them and will work hard for the same. We did not perform well in the last few matches and I am hopeful that the team will come back well in the semi finals. Also playing in the home ground is always an advantage and we are hopeful to give a better show in the semis.”
Addressing the media, Moritz Furste, Captain, Ranchi Rhinos said, “We lacked in our offense today. It just didn’t work out well on ground. We missed quite a few penalty corner as well and we really need to work on this spot to make sure we enter the finals.”
Hero Goal of the match winner – Ashley Jackson
YES Bank Garv Award winner – Sandeep Singh
Man of the Match – Birendra Lakra
Uttar Pradesh Wizards will take on Delhi Waveriders while Jaypee Punjab Warriors will fight Ranchi Rhinos again in the semi finals scheduled for February 22nd at Ranchi.
|1||Jaypee Punjab Warriors||10||7||2||1||34||21||+13||40|
|3||Uttar Pradesh Wizards||10||4||2||4||25||23||+2||28|
|5||Dabur Mumbai Magicians||10||2||1||7||19||29||-10||18|