Ajay Thakur escaped the Vizag defence with ease

As the Southern Derby between Vizag and Bengaluru began, the crowd erupted to cheer its team to a win, powering them to the Semi Finals in Mumbai. The last times that these two teams met, it ended in a draw, but for the sake of both the teams, today had to have a clear winner. Primed to decide the fate of the Bengaluru and Vizag, the match was a showdown of epic proportions, illustrated most cogently by the final score of Bengaluru 27, Vizag 26.

Titans got off to a good start as Sukesh Hegde sent the Bulls' captain back to the dugout. His teammates followed this up with excellent prestige, as Rajaguru and Gopu captured Ajay Thakur, making way for their second point of the night. Back on full-charge mode, Bengaluru Bulls sent out Vizag's best raiders Rahul Chaudhari, Deepak Niwas Hooda and Sukesh Hegde, one after the other. Crumbling under pressure, Titans conceded their first LONA points, allowing Bengaluru a six-point lead in the 11th minute. With a strong defence easing Bengauru's challenge, Rahul and Deepak were tackled easily and sent back, leaving the yellow army in a spot of bother. The Bulls' defence continued to dominate for the rest of the first half, saving Bengaluru from one of Rahul's signature multi point raid by stopping him mere centimetres short of the centre line.

The Telugu Titans started the second half with a lot of ground to make up. Having been decimated by the Bulls tackles, the score stood at Bengaluru 17, Vizag 10. A successful raid by Sukesh Hegde followed by a tackle of Ajay left Bengaluru with only 2 players remaining, a perfect scenario for Rahul. Stepping across the centre line, it took him only seconds to tag one Bull out and escape the grip of another, giving Vizag 4 points, an all-out and bringing them only one point behind. A masterful tackle by D Gopu lifted up and then dispatched Ajay tying the score at 17 all. The gme would remain tied up until its final minute, a perfect atmosphere to bring out the loudest cheers the Bengaluru crowd could offer. At one moment, Sukesh was able to tilt the scales towards Telugu, scoring an amazing 3 touch raid against the Bulls. But this was immediately countered by Ajay, scoring a 2 touch raid and once again tying the scores. Manjit Chillar seemed content with this tie, wasting a number of his raids by strolling the centre line. This continued until only seconds remained in the match, but Vizag saw their dreams come crashing down as Sukesh went too deep into the Bull's territory, and as the Bulls piled on top of the lone Titan, the match decisively went to Bengaluru. The score, however, does not necessarily put Vizag out. With Bengaluru winning by only 1 point, the damage to Vizag's Score Differential is marginal, and with Bengaluru and Vizag now tied for 4th in the League standing, a loss of more than 9 points for Bengaluru tomorrow would bring Vizag back in. This is a far hope for Vizag however, as Jaipur has nothing to gain with a 9 point win, and in fact could take tomorrow as easily as they'd like, so it is unlikely that they would risk injury against the brutal Bengaluru defence with only days before the semi-finals.