Ranchi, February 22, 2014: Sandeep Singh scored a brace to help Jaypee Punjab Warriors stun defending champions Ranchi Rhinos 3-2 in an exciting second semifinal and seal their place in the final of the Hero Hockey India League 2014 in Ranchi today.
Jaypee Punjab Warriors, who finished fourth last year, will take on Delhi Waveriders in tomorrow’s final at the Astroturf Hockey Stadium.
Unlike the first semifinal, the second last four match was a fast paced encounter. Ranchi Rhinos made a bright start and were undoubtedly the better side on display at least in the opening half. Ranchi Rhinos took the lead in the 15th minute through Englishman Ashley Jackson who converted their first penalty corner to have the upperhand at the end of the first quarter.
Jaypee Punjab Warriors, however, drew level minutes into the second quarter through their star drag-flicker Sandeep Singh.
Sandeep converted the Punjab side’s first penalty corner in the 24th minute to register his 10th goal in the tournament.
Rhinos and Warriors earned a penalty corner each before the break but the chances went abegging.
The intense battle between the two teams continued after the change of ends but it was the Warriors who had the better share of chances.
Jaypee Punjab Warriors earned three more penalty corners in the third quarter, the last of which was converted by Sandeep in the 52nd minute to mark his second goal of the day and 11th in the tournament.
Jake Whetton (55th minute) then scored with a fierce strike from the top of the circle to make it 3-1 in favour of the Warriors before Floris Evers (58th minute) reduced the margin three minutes later for the Rhinos with a field goal to bring the stadium alive.
Ranchi Rhinos got a golden chance to draw level in the final minute of the match through their third penalty corner but an alert Jaap Stockmann in Warriors goal dived full-length to his right to keep out Jackson’s grounder flick, which incidentally was the last action of the day.
Speaking post the match Barry Dancer, Head Coach Jaypee Punjab warriors said “we made a slow start today but we picked up in the second and third quarter. We held our composure till the end and it helped us clinch the win. I am pleased the team kept its nerves under pressure. It was a balanced game and bith teams played a good game of hockey. We are happy and excited to be playing the finals tomorrow. Delhi Waveriders has been a consistent team and has been leading the League for a major part. I am expecting an even contest tomorrow”
Speaking post the match, Captain, Ranchi Rhinos, Mortiz Furste said “we played today’s game with a lot of heart but things did not go well. We conceded two corners and missed too many chances. In the first half we did not give any chances but later we were unable to control them. We tried everything to draw the game but remained unsuccessful..”
Speaking on missing out on the finals Gregg Clark, Head Coach, Ranchi Rhinos said “We had a good game though there were some rough patches. We conceded two goals which costed us badly. Had we been able to convert the penalty corner, it would have been a different result today. We tried to keep up our defence but missed some chances which costed us the finals.”
YES Bank Garv Award winner – Sandeep Singh
Man of the Match – Sandeep Singh
Hero Goal of the Match Award – Jake Whetton