Bengaluru Bulls finally ended its losing streak with a narrow 24-20 win against Puneri Paltan in the inter-zonal challenge match at the Motilal Nehru School of Sports here on Sunday.
It took the combined defensive strength of Bengaluru to earn full points from the game, the win coming after six straight losses in the competition. The low-scoring, cautious and defensive game saw both teams failing to make much headway through their raids, relying more on earning one point at a time through their defenders.
The reliance on defence can be gauged from the fact that Rohit Kumar and Deepak Niwas Hooda – both star raiders for their respective teams – could manage just three points apiece through the game. As many as 15 of Bengaluru's points came through tackles – Pune scored 11 of its own on the defence – as the teams were locked 4-4 in the first ten minutes and then 7-all till the 17th minute of the match. It was anybody's game with the score 8-10 in favour of Pune at half time.
It took a lucky break for Bengaluru captain Rohit Kumar in the 28th minute to put the game in his team's favour. Rohit managed a successful raid, taking out two of the three Pune players on the mat, to trigger a Pune all-out and open up a four-point lead for either team for the first time in the game.
That proved to be the turning point with Bengaluru relying on its defenders to maintain the margin and, despite its best efforts, Pune was unable to bridge the gap. In the other match of the day, host Haryana Steelers lost 37-19 against a struggling Telugu Titans.
The results: Bengaluru Bulls 24 (Kuldeep Singh 5, Mahender Singh 4, Sunil Jaipal 4) beat Puneri Paltan 20 (Dharmaraj Cheralathan 4, Sandeep Narwal 3, Deepak Niwas Hooda 3). Telugu Titans 37 (Rahul Chaudhari 10, Vishal Bharadwaj 6, Nilesh Salunke 5) bt Haryana Steelers 19 (Wazir Singh 6).
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