Warriors end league phase on losing note as Waveriders win

Punjab Warriors ended the league phase on a disappointing note, losing 2-3 to Delhi Waveriders in the Hero Hockey India League here on Tuesday. Warriors, who have already sealed their place in the semifinals, lost their second home game in two days.

For Waveriders, who are yet to lose a game in the tournament, Rupinder Pal Singh scored with a drag flick before Oscar Deecke and Lloyd Norris-Jones scored a goal each at the Surjit Singh Stadium.

With both teams having already booked their place in the semifinals, a free-flowing game was expected to unfold and that is exactly what was on view at the start.

Delhi Waveriders earned a penalty corner in the seventh minute when a Danish Mujtaba push hit a Warriors’ defender. Rupinder completely bamboozled Warriors’ goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann with his drag-flick to open the account for the Delhi team.

Warriors could have equa­lised a couple of minutes later but SV Sunil missed a sitter and soon after, Ciriello’s drag-flick off a penalty corner was blocked by the Delhi defence.

Waveriders made the Warriors pay for those lapses in the 11th minute. Mujtaba was once again involved in the move as he set up Deecke in the rival striking circle. The German fired in a shot that went to the right of Warriors’ goalkeeper and into the goal.

Warriors managed to pull one back in the last minute of the first quarter with Malak Singh deflecting in a Dha­ramveer Singh cross from the right.

Five minutes into the second quarter, Lloyd Norris Jones scored to restore Waveriders’ two-goal lead. Collecting the ball from the left, Norris-Jones hammered a reverse hit past the Warriors’ goalkeeper.

There was more danger for the hosts in the 34th minute with Norris-Jones coming up with a brilliant solo move. Gaining possession near the half-line, he dribbled past a couple of defenders but his shot was blocked by Stockmann.

Warriors forced back-to-back penalty corners in the third quarter but were denied by Waveriders’ goalkeeper Nicolas Jacobi. Jacobi took the first one on his body, saved the second with his left leg, and then dived to his right to keep out the rebound that had gone to a Warriors’ player.

Five minutes later, it was the turn of Bharat Chetri, who had replaced Stockmann in the Warriors’ goal, to face a penalty corner. And Chetri was equal to the task, taking Rupinder’s drag flick on his body.

The hosts got their penalty corner act right, helping them to reduce the margin in the final minute. Christopher Ciriello’s flick went low to the right of Jacobi, beating him all ends up.

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