Rhinos made the most of home advantage and controlled the greater part of the first quarter, with Jackson playing a crucial role in midfield.

Defending champion Ranchi Rhinos downed neighbours Kalinga Lancers of Bhubaneswar 3-2 in an exciting Hockey India League encounter at the Astroturf Stadium here on Friday.

Rhinos, held 1-1 in their previous outing at the same venue by Mumbai Magicians, picked up their third win of the campaign thanks to goals from Ashley Jackson, captain Moritz Furste and Amon Tirkey. Lancers played well and even led 2-1 at the end of the third quarter with goals from Gonzalo Peillat and captain Kiel Brown.

Rhinos made the most of home advantage and controlled the greater part of the first quarter, with Jackson playing a crucial role in midfield.

The English drag-flicker grabbed the lead for the host when he perfectly angled the ball past Lancers’ goalkeeper Harjot Singh from a penalty corner in the fourth minute.

Jackson’s second attempt in the 12th minute, displaying fine stick work, was saved by Harjot.

Lancers regrouped in the second quarter, using the flanks well to try and break the defensive arrangement of the host. This helped them win four successive penalty corners starting from the 30th minute.

Rhinos’ defence stood strong against drag-flicker Gonzalo Peillat. But the Argentine eventually got the ball home in the 33rd minute to leave the half-time score reading 1-1.

Lancers’ decision to be more assertive paid off as they found the lead towards the end of the third quarter.

Young Lalit Upadhyay, who displayed excellent skills in attack, created the opening in the 51st minute with a smart pass which Australian Kiel Brown finished with ease.

Stung by the reverse, the defending champion hit back in the final quarter and regained its rhythm. Furste, the doughty German Olympian in midfield, restored parity in the 57th minute when he tore into the Lancers defence.

He created space on the right flank, and then scored with a fine diving effort as Tirkey crossed the ball back to the Lancers goalmouth.

Tirkey ensured the win and five points for Rhinos in the 63rd minute when he sounded the board with a cracking shot after Floris Evers set him up with a short pass.

The result: Ranchi Rhinos 3 (Ashley Jackson 4, Moritz Furste 57, Amon Tirkey 63) bt Kalinga Lancers 2 (Gonzalo Peillat 33, Kiel Brown 51).

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