Bengal Warriors and Puneri Paltan, two of the best looking sides from their respective zones, clashed in the inter zone wild card match on Friday and in the end the Warriors proved the better of the two with a 25-19 win at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. Deepak Hooda managed 6 raid points and 1 tackle point for Pune while Surjeet Singh and Shrikant Tewthia both returned High 5s for Bengal Warriors.
Bengal Warriors started positively in both attack and defence while Pune played the waiting game. However, Pune still managed to strike at vital junctures to keep the scored tied at 2-2 till the 7th minute. With Maninder Singh on the sidelines, the Bengal charge seemed to slow down as well since their second raider for the night Bhupender Singh had to come back empty-handed every time he was sent in to raid.
In an unexpected turn of events, both the usually aggressive teams fell back on their defence, scoring only one raid point each till as late as the 16th minute of the first half. The only successful raiders from either side - Maninder and Hooda - were absolutely neck and neck and so were the teams at 7-7 with 2 minutes still to be played. Pune even brought on Rohit Kumar Choudary to try and break the deadlock but were unsuccessful. Bhupender finally managed to score a bonus from his last raid of the half and Bengal took a narrow 9-8 lead going into half time.
The game was proving to be a battle of the defences as the second half was also a slow affair. Pune managed to outlast Bengal in the patience department and as a result they took a 12-10 lead in the 7th minute. However, Bengal proved they were no push-overs by super tackling Pune captain Hooda and almost immediately equalising at 12-12.
Tewthia rose to the occasion and reached his High 5 sending Bengal ahead 14-12 with 10 minutes still on the clock. Pune soon equalised again at 15-15 through some brilliant defending and quick raiding by Hooda but the Bengal defence was equal to the task. They first tackled Monu in a do-or-die raid and then extended their lead once again through a 2-point raid by Vinod Kumar.
Bengal Warriors finally managed to score an All-Out on the back of a strong raid by star raider Maninder and went 23-15 up late in the game. Experienced campaigner Surjeet also managed to score a High 5 of his own and hold the Bengal defence together. Hooda and the Pune defence were matched equally by Maninder and the Bengal tacklers from there as the match ended 25-19 in favour of the Warriors.
Check out our snapshots from this match here.