A last gasp tackle from Sunil on Rohit Gulia in the buzzer raid ensured a thrilling 38-37 victory for Haryana Steelers over Gujarat Fortunegiants at the Tau Devilal Sports Complex in Panchkula on Sunday. At the post-match press conference, coach Rakesh Kumar and skipper Dharmaraj Cheralathan took questions for Haryana Steelers, while coach Manpreet Singh and Rohit Gulia represented Gujarat Fortunegiants.
Q. Thoughts on the match?
Manpreet Singh: It was an excellent match and the team played really well. But I am not completely satisfied with the result. Gujarat Fortunegiants are known for their defence but they lost their way towards the start of this season. However, we came back to our full strength in raiding and defence in the previous two matches. The team has fought through the entire season only on the basis of our raiding. Sunil Kumar and Sachin’s injuries exposed our bench players a little. We failed because we decided to fight until the last second of the match which showed the spirit of the team. Even a tie would not have worked in our favour. The baulk line tackle of Vikash Kandola was excellent but, unfortunately, our raider got tackled in the last raid. If luck would have been in our favour then we could have had the game from there. This match is a good example for youngsters who want to play the sport, though, to inspire them to fight till the end.
Q. How do you see the way forward?
Manpreet Singh: Now we have to depend on others for qualification. I am not one who likes such situations. I am someone who likes to get there on his own strength.
Q. Are you disappointed that the team was in the lead but still lost?
Manpreet Singh: I don’t take momentary leads or deficits into account. My plan was for the entire match. We have played some good games in the season that have been decided in the last seconds. But we didn’t have a finisher in defence or attack. Otherwise, there is no match barring a couple where we lost by a big margin.
Q. Thoughts on the match?
Rakesh Kumar: The match really turned around only at the very end. It was a match which was heading for a tie but a tie would not benefit us so we made an attempt at the end at it became a successful tackle. However, we made quite a few errors.
Q. Thoughts on the performance of the defence?
Dharmaraj Cheralathan: The defence played a little weak in the first half. However, they came back in the second half and were well-supported by the raiders.
Q. Are you happy with today’s victory?
Rakesh Kumar: I am happy that we won but I am not at all happy with the performance mainly because the opposition didn’t have much to lose so they had come to give it their all. The pressure was on us. If we could have avoided the early All Out then the match could have turned out very differently. We had discussed before the match that if we take the opposition along in terms of points it will become very difficult for us. That is what happened and the match was neck and neck for a long time.