A scintillating second-half comeback from the Gujarat Giants fell short as the Haryana Steelers held their nerve to win 34-32. Vikash Kandola and Meetu Mahender combined for 20 raid points for the Steelers, while Rakesh scored 19 raid points for the Giants.
The Steelers got off to an irresistible start, courtesy of Kandola, Meetu and the defence, who helped their side inflict an early All Out and take a 9-5 lead. They continued to pile the points on the scoreboard, adding six more unanswered points to their total to leave the Giants with just a solitary man on the mat.
The Steelers’ defence allowed the raider to pick up the bonus before pinning him down to inflict a second All Out and take an 18-6 lead. The lead soon ballooned to 15, courtesy of the defence and Kandola, but two quick successful raids from Rakesh in the final couple of minutes of the half cut the Giants’ deficit to 12 at the halftime interval.
Rakesh continued his excellent work in the second half, and the Giants’ defence finally found their footing, as they combined to reduce the Steelers down to just two men on the mat. A Super Tackle and two-raid from substitute Mohammad Mahalli kept the All Out at bay, but Rakesh was simply relentless on offence, and helped the Giants inflict an All Out to cut the deficit to seven.
Rakesh added four more points to his team’s total in just three raids to cut the Giants’ deficit to just three points and the defence, too, stepped up to pick up two tackle points to inflict a second All Out on the Steelers and snatch the lead.
Rakesh’s 18th point of the night extended the Giants’ lead to three and seemingly sunk the Steelers’ hopes, but Meetu stepped up and delivered a Super Raid to bring parity to the scoreline. With less than a minute left, Rakesh went in to pick the winning point but was instead tackled by Mohit, giving the Steelers the lead.
With just over 30 seconds left on the clock, the Giants were forced to defend the baulk line, and that allowed Vikash to pick up an easy raid point to extend the Steelers’ advantage to two. The Steelers’ defence quickly surrendered a point to stay in the lead, and with just a second left on the clock, Vikash went in for the final raid of the game and picked up another point to win the game for Haryana.
Best Raider – Meetu (10 Raid Points)
Best Defender – Surender Nada (3 Tackle Points)
Best Raider – Rakesh (19 Raid Points)
Best Defender – Ravinder Pahal (4 Tackle Points)