Rhinos inflict first defeat on Wizards

Ranchi Rhinos handed Uttar Pradesh Wizards their first defeat of the Hero Hockey India League when they got the better of the visitors 3-1 at the Astroturf Hockey stadium here on Thursday.

Strikes from skipper Moritz Fuerste (27th minute) and Nick Wilson (67th) and a penalty stroke by Ashley Jackson (69th) proved enough for the hosts to collect five points, while Luke Doerner (53rd) scored the consolation goal for the visitors.

Egged on by a vociferous crowd, the Rhinos were the first to get off the block and raided the opposition citadel at regular intervals but their forwards’ inability to keep their composure in the striking circle meant that the Wizards custodian was never under any real threat.

The Wizards were content to sit back during the initial exchanges and they kept the Rhinos at bay during the first quarter. The Rhinos continued to ask questions of the Wizards defence in the second quarter but needed a lucky break in the 27th minute to take the lead. Birendra Lakra sent in a hopeful hit towards the Wizards goal from the 25-yard line and Fuerste managed to get the faintest of touch to send the crowd in rapture.

However, the hosts continued to waste chances, including six penalty corners in the opening three quarters and the Wizards finally made them pay for the profligacy when Luke Doerner converted the team’s fourth penalty corner in the dying minutes of the third quarter.

Both the teams were guilty of not showing the precision required to score the goals inside the striking circle till Nick Wilson beat the Wizards’ custodian with a reverse hit from the left, three minutes from the final hooter.
Ashley Jackson then converted the penalty stroke in the 69th minute to complete the score line.

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