Bengal Warriors strengthened their position at the summit of Zone B thanks to a 34-30 victory over Tamil Thalaivas at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune on Friday. Maninder Singh was Bengal’s top-scorer with 12 raid points, while captain Surjeet Singh also bagged a High 5, contributing a total of six tackle points.

Neither team allowed the opposition to get a stranglehold of the match early on as Chennai marginally shaded the opening quarter and took a 6-5 lead into the closing 10 minutes of the half. Bengal began to assert their dominance as the half progressed with Maninder’s two-point raid in the 15th minute seeing Kolkata create a three-point lead.

Two more successful raids by Maninder soon after then helped set up an All-Out on the southerners to make the score 16-12 in favour of Bengal. Chennai tried to respond before half-time but the Warriors still went into the break with a four-point advantage.

Maninder brought up his Super 10 early in the second period as Bengal looked to control the pace of the game with a 24-19 lead to bank on heading into the final 10 minutes. But a two-point raid by K. Prapanjan – that also brought up his Super 10 – in the 33rd minute gave Chennai some hope of making a comeback.

A robust tackle on Bengal’s Vinod Kumar moments later seemed to give the southerners a bit more momentum, however, once Prapanjan got tackled in a do-or-die raid for Chennai, the writing was on the wall.

Substitute Bhupender Singh then raided successfully for the Warriors in a do-or-die situation before skipper Surjeet executed a brilliant block on Ajay Thakur to put the result beyond Chennai. Bhupender, in fact, finished with a flourish courtesy of super raid that enforced another All-Out on Chennai to effectively seal the victory.

Check out our snapshots from this match here.