A WELL-CALCULATED DISPLAY from Bengal Warriors showed that they had taken the bitter lessons from the previous night to heart as they managed to hold their composure throughout a rather tight fight with Dabang Delhi, and rode a late surge to a seal a decisive 31-23 victory.
Delhi's tight defensive formation was holding up well initially, and Bengal raiders Nitin Madane and Monu Goyat found it hard to make room for themselves to go for a touch without risking a double tackle. Jang Kun Lee, the Warriors' South Korean raider, tried it anyway and fell prey to the defence, and Delhi's star raider Kashiling Adake got a touch. Delhi took an early lead of 0-2.
Bengal replied with a couple of frutiful raids and Nitin and as well as fine trapping of Kashiling. 10 minutes in, Bengl were up 5-3, and Delhi were down to 3 men. To avoid an all-out they replaced Sachin Shingade with Prashant Kumar Rai.
The substitute raider didn't do that well; he got out on his first raid, leaving only 2 on the mat. But dwindling on the edge of all-out Daband Delhi pulled off something wonderful. When Monu Goyat came raiding, a brilliant lunge from Meraj Sheykh got them the double points of a super tackle, and an opportunity for a turnaround. 6-5.
But Bengal Warriors kep up the pressure. Lee and Goyat came raiding and got a touch, and Deepak Narwal got himself caught. Delhi pushed back with Meraj leading the proceedings in both defence and raiding. Kashiling got a touch too. And 15 minutes in, the game was level at 9-9.
Mohu Goyat ran a raid. He attempted a touch which he missed, and he fell into the lobby. But within a split second, two Delhi defenders went charging into him, assuming he had gotten the touch. The decision proved costly for Dabang Delhi, who ended up losing two players to Bengal's one. The Warriors were leading again, and they increased it by trapping Kashiling and another successful raid from Lee. 13-10.
Delhi were once again on the verge of an all-out with only Meraj Sheykha on the mat, and he got them out of it again. He went raiding and got a double touch. And then he trapped Mohu Goyat, to bag 2 points from the super tackle. At half-time, Delhi were actually in the lead. It was 13-14.
Jang Kun Lee had sustained an injury in the first half. So the Warriors replaced him with Ravi Dalal at the start of the second. The game resumed on a slow manner, with an emphasis from both sides to save their energy for the end.
Deepak Narwal of Delhi got caught and Bengal's Nitin Madane escaped an attempted hold. Down to 2 on the mat once again, Meraj Sheykh was once again left to fight it out, with a successful raid followed by another super-tackle trapping of Monu Goyat. Prashant also went out and got a touch. 28 minutes in, Delhi appeared to be on the rise, leading 15-18.
But Bengal weren't letting this one go. Ravi Dalal got two successive touches and they caught Kashiling again. Suddenly, Delhi were down to 1 and no amount of looping substitution was going to help the wiggle out of this one. Prashant Kumar Rai got caught, and Delhi were all-out. 30 minutes in, Bengal got a seizable lead of 21-18.
Delhi caught Monu Goyat thanks to a great D Suresh Kumar tackle. Then Meraj Sheykh got a bonus but ended up trapped. Ravi Dalal got a touch and Kashiling got caught again. And before Delhi knew it, Ravi Dalal came in, got a touch and had a total of 3 defenders follow him into the lobby as he managed to get one hand on the centre line. A super raid that was the death knell for Delhi, who were now trailing 27-20, with just about a minute left on the clock.
Selvamani got two successful raids for Delhi, as the Bengal raiders just ate up the remaining seconds. Still, Delhi still had the chance to secure a bonus point. But that all went out of the window when in the last minute Meraj became too adventurous and got trapped. Nitin Madane came raiding and got a touch out of the only remaining Delhi man. Another all-out was complete, to get a final score of 31-23.
It was a much more measured and matured performance from Bengal Warriors after the last moment 1 point loss to Bengaluru last night. As for Dabang Delhi, their season-opener did not pan out that well for them. But they can take heart from the way their defence held up initially and the all-round performance of Meraj Sheykh. If Kashiling and Selvamani manage to get going on a night along with him, there may well be a big ticket victory within touching distance for this team.