The first match in Lucknow of the Hero Hockey India League 2nd edition also saw King of Bhangra, Daler Mehndi performing on his hit numbers during the opening ceremony.
The Rhinos were by far the better side on display as they dominated the match from the start to finish. The visitors had the better share of ball possession, enjoying 56 per cent of the possession as against Wizards’ 44 percent.
The Rhinos outplayed the Wizards in terms of circle penetration as well as they made in roads into the hosts circle 21 times as compared to their opponents’ nine attempts.
To sum up it was a close contest between the two finest teams of the tournament, but it was the Rhinos who utilized the chances that came their way.
The Rhinos took the lead through star English drag-flicker Ashley Jackson who converted a penalty corner in the 18th minute.
The Wizards had their chances in the match but the forward line led by HHIL 2014’s expensive player, Ramandeep Singh failed to cash in on the opportunities.
Another Englishman Barry Middleton (26th minute) doubled the Rhinos’ lead with a field goal in the second quarter as the visitors’ went into the halfway break with a comfortable 2-0 advantage.
At the change of ends, the Wizards adopted an aggressive approach and created a few bright openings but the Rhinos defense led by captain Moritz Fürste stood like a rock to thwart any danger to their citadel.
The Wizards, however, managed to pull one back in the 50 minute when Edward Ockenden scored from a field effort to raise the hope of the home fans in the entertaining match which was witnessed by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
But that was all the home team can manage as the visitors fell back and defended their citadel with precision to register their second win the six-team franchise event.
The Rhinos and Wizards are presently tied at the third position in the standings with 11 points from three matches each.
Hero Goal of the match winner – Barry Middleton
YES Bank Garv Award winner – Ashley Jackson
Man of the Match – Moritz Furste
Speaking on the performance by the team, Ranchi Rhinos’ Coach Gregg Clark, said “it was an important game today as in the first match against Uttar Pradesh Warriors we did not deliver as per expectations. Our next game is against Dabur Mumbai Magicians and they look like a difficult team to play against and we have to be extra careful against them”
Speaking on the team’s performance, UP Wizards Coach, Roelant Oltmans said “we started very well but somewhere we lost the momentum as the game progressed. Our next match is against Jaypee Punjab Warriors and we will prepare accordingly. We will work on our strategy and techniques accordingly”
Uttar Pradesh Wizards will next face Jaypee Punjab Warriors here tomorrow, while the Ranchi Rhinos will face Dabur Mumbai Magicians in their home ground on February 4 (Schedule Here).
On facing UP Wizards next, Barry Dancer, Coach of Jaypee Punjab Warriors said, “I feel confident as the team has shown improvement. Our performance in the last match against Delhi Waveriders was good. The team has depth and it is now coming out with every match. Uttar Pradesh Wizards are the title contenders for the tournament we have great respect for them. They have quality players and good depth in their side. We would identify their weakness and try to take advantage to turn the match in our favour.”