Calcutta: Defending champions Ranchi Rhinos rode Amon Tirkey’s winner to edge past debutants Kalinga Lancers 3-2 in a Hockey India League (HIL) match, in Ranchi, on Friday.
The Rhinos started the match as favourites and took the lead in the sixth minute through Ashley Jackson, who converted his side’s first penalty corner to notch up his third goal of the tournament.
The Lancers also had their share of opportunities in the first quarter.
The Rhinos continued to play the attacking game in the second quarter but they failed to convert their chances.
The Lancers, however, dominated the proceedings in the last five minutes of the opening half and earned as many as three penalty corners in succession, the third of which was converted by drag-flicker Gonzalo Peillat to level the scores 1-1 at halftime.
The Lancers stunned the Rhinos and surged ahead in the 51st minute against the run of play through captain Kiel Brown’s strike after he was beautifully set up by Lalit Upadhyay.
The final quarter witnessed an intense battle between the two teams, but the Rhinos made use of their experience and converted their chances into goals to win the match after being down by a goal till the last 14 minutes of the match.
Captain Moritz Furste scored a diving field goal in the 57th minute to draw parity for the Rhinos before Amon Tirkey’s beautiful field strike in the 63rd minute sealed the match in the Rhinos’ favour.
Rhinos coach Gregg Clark said, “The overall performance of the team was great. However, we need to look at a few areas that need improvement. The team showed great mental strength and we seem to be on the right track. ”