Defending champion Ranchi Rhinos earned its first win of the Hero Hockey India League 2014 at the Astro-Turf hockey stadium here defeating Delhi Waveriders by a solitary goal on Monday.
Having lost its opening match to Uttar Pradesh Wizards on Sunday, it was a good comeback by the host.
The win gave full six points to Rhinos.
The goal came in the final quarter where the supremacy of Rhinos was never in doubt. Early on Hamish McGreger was called upon to save a shot from Amit Rohidas. Waveriders replied strongly with repeated attacks but on all three occasions Ranchi custodian Francisco Cortes brought off brilliant saves. His performance won him the man-of-the-match award. The match-winner was a fine drag-flick by Ashley Jackson to the left of the goalkeeper.
Waveriders got the third penalty corner of the game but Andres Mir’s push was wide dashing all the hopes of the visitors to equalise.
Though Rhinos enjoyed ball possession early on, it was Waveriders who made the impact with incisive raids. The team, led ably by Sardar Singh, was compact in the defence and relied more on counters.
The Delhi outfit gave its star forward Simon Child his first game and he made a lot of difference upfront with his positional play. The Rhinos defence too stood the test well and though it conceded two penalty corners, the Waveriders failed to capitalise on it.
The first penalty corner at the fag end of the first half was brilliantly palmed away by Francisco Cortes off a Rupinder Pal Singh flick and in the second, earned in the second quarter, was wasted as Talwinder Singh’s push was weak.
As the game progressed to the halftime, Rhinos saw the ball more but lacked the sharpness inside the striking circle. Waveriders’ goalkeeper Hamish McGreger was called upon to save the team only once in this half.
Six minutes after the resumption, Waveriders almost conceded a goal but for a goalline save by Gurbaj Singh.
With eight minutes to go for the third quarter, Rhinos earned its first penalty corner. Ashley Jackson’s flick was just wide off the left post.
Thereabouts one of the floodlights stopped delaying the game for five minutes.
When play resumed, Rhinos were on the attack again but no goals ensued.
Ranchi Rhinos 1 (Ashley Jackson 62) bt Delhi Waveriders 0.