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Warriors third-time lucky

Game changer: Matt Gohdes (jersey No. 16) virtually sealed the deal for the Warriors in the third quarter with his second goal of the final against Lancers.

Game changer: Matt Gohdes (jersey No. 16) virtually sealed the deal for the Warriors in the third quarter with his second goal of the final against Lancers.  

Waveriders become the only team to finish on the podium in every edition.

Jaypee Punjab Warriors was third time lucky, being crowned champion of the fourth Hockey India League with an emphatic 6-1 victory over Kalinga Lancers in the final here on Sunday.

Earlier, Waveriders beat Ranchi Rays 2-0 in the playoff for the third place, becoming the only team to finish on the podium in each of the four editions, even as Rupinder Pal Singh capped off an impressive season with his fifth Man-of-the-Match award.

Warriors, playing their third consecutive final against first-timer Lancers, dominated the game all through and hardly gave any space to the opposition. It was a lesson in hockey masterclass and Warriors, led by Sardar Singh in their final match of the season, were spot-on in everything they did. In the process, Sardar became the only captain to lift the HIL title twice, with different teams, having led Delhi Waveriders to the trophy in 2014.

The assault began in the fourth minute when Armaan Qureshi, put through by Matt Gohdes, made no mistake slotting the reverse hit in from the top of the striking circle. Warriors got a couple of penalty corners as well, but couldn't convert even as Lancers skipper Mortiz Furste got one of his own to reduce the margin in the 24th minute. That was to be the only highlight for Lancers as Warriors came out post half time with renewed energy to end all hopes for the Lancers.

Furste kept trying and got able support from Pradeep Mor, but the Warriors’ defence was too strong and accurate to breach. The third quarter changed the game completely. Sardar Singh put through S.V. Sunil in the 39th minute and the latter, drawing the three Lancers defenders inside the circle towards himself, coolly put through a waiting Gohdes in front of the goal to deflect in. Three minutes later, Satbir Singh shot in from the top of the D to make it 6-1.

Sardar and Mark Knowles were the men who made all the difference. The Indian skipper and his Australian counterpart made sure nothing went past them either in the midfield or defence. Knowles, in particular, was everywhere and his impeccable trapping and passing set up the maximum scoring chances for Warriors.

Lancers threw everything into the game in the final 10 minutes, earning three penalty corners but it wasn't to be its day.

Rays overshadowed

In the earlier game, Rays were outplayed in most departments and the team looked out of sorts with the players being erratic in the basics and unable to control the ball effectively. Coach Harendra Singh admitted his players struggled early on to recover after a hard-fought semifinal on Saturday. It showed as the intensity was missing and the players were unable to complete most of the scoring moves, hitting wide or conceding turnovers.

Waveriders, on the other hand, learnt from their mistakes and closed down the defence, effectively marshalled by Rupinder and went for quality instead of quantity during attacks. That meant lesser possession, but more control.

Mandeep Singh got the only goal of the match in the 18th minute off the third shot at the net due to a defensive lapse after Rays’ goalkeeper Tyler Lovell had blocked the first two attempts. Rays earned a handful of penalty corners but couldn't convert with Ashley Jackson off-colour.

The results:

Final: Jaypee Punjab Warriors 6 (Armaan Qureshi 2 FG, Matt Gohdes 2 FG, Satbir Singh 2 FG) bt Kalinga Lancers 1 (Moritz Fusrte PC); Third place playoff: Delhi Waveriders 2 (Mandeep Singh FG) bt Ranchi Rays 0.

Player of the Tournament: Rupinder Pal Singh (Delhi Waveriders); Emerging Player of the Tournament: Sumit (Ranchi Rays); Top scorer of the Tournament: Glenn Turner (Kalinga Lancers).

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 2:01:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/warriors-thirdtime-lucky/article8264680.ece

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