DEEPAK HOODA’S super raid led to Tamil Thalaivas collapse in the closing minutes as the hosts succumbed to a 20-33 defeat against Puneri Paltan at Chennai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium on Friday. Deepak Hooda scored a match-high 6 points and was ably aided by Rajesh Mondal (5 points), with the entire Pune defence also coming together to see off Ajay Thakur’s men.
Hooda and K. Prapanjan set the scoreboard ticking for their respective teams through successful raids. Thakur continued his glorious form from the previous matches and aided in both attack and defence to give the Thalaivas an advantage but succumbed to a super tackle soon after, which ensured the scoreline remained tied at 6-6 at the end of the first quarter.
After a series of tackles by Pune’s solid defence, only two Thalaivas players were left on the mat. But the inspired hosts came back superbly with two consecutive super tackles on Mondal and Sandeep Narwal to tie the scores. The last action of the first half saw substitute Dong Geon Lee picking up a 2-point raid to ensure the Thalaivas entered the breather with a slight 12-11 lead.
After a neck-and-neck first half, both the teams started the second half cautiously. Do-or-die raids dominated the proceedings as none wanted to take extra risks. The scoreline ticked on steadily with Pune's super tackle on Prapanjan being the only highlight of the third quarter. Pune used their review opportunities perfectly as both their successful reviews ensured they went into the final quarter with a slight 16-15 lead.
The moment of the match was, however, reserved for the last quarter. With 3 men on the mat, Hooda went in for a do-or-die raid and came back triumphantly with a super raid that handed the Thalaivas their first All-Out of the match. With a 6-point advantage, Pune's confidence got a major boost which even Narwal's yellow card suspension could not dampen. Mondal's consecutive successful raids in do-or-die situations soon paved the way for the Thalaivas’ second All-Out of the evening, and with a final flourish, Pune succeeded in thwarting the Thalaivas attempt to start their home leg on a winning note.
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