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Chandigarh, Feb 9 (IANS) Heroic goalkeeping by Australian Tristan Clemons helped Jaypee Punjab Warriors inflict a double on Ranchi Rays with a 1-0 victory in the Hockey India League (HIL) here at the Hockey Stadium on Thursday.
Punjab, who thrashed Rays in the latter’s home 7-0 a few days back, scored from a penalty corner (PC) in the 24th minute through Holland’s Mink van der Weerden but it was Clemons who stood like a rock between the sticks for the defending champions stringing together as many as seven saves.
Rays came close twice from open play either side of the solitary goal, with Manpreet Singh and Christopher Ruhr hitting the woodwork.
The win kept Punjab fourth in the six-team points table with 16 points from five matches while Rays also stayed on third with 18 points from eight outings.
The visitors wasted a glut of chances and their dismal PC record (1 from 25) continued unabated as they wasted seven chances.
Rays started the game better keeping possession more than their rivals and breaking into the final third with more creativity.
In the 5th minute, Germany’s Christopher Ruhr blazed over after receiving well inside the D. The best chance of the first quarter fell to halfback Manpreet Singh whose shot took a deflection off Punjab goalkeeper and ricocheted off the bar.
In the second quarter, the tempo of the game remained the same as Rays attacked more than the hosts.
But against the run of play, Punjab took the lead albeit from familiar territory.
Boasting of the highest PC conversion rate among all teams (5 out of 17), the home team had van der Weerden to thank as the Dutch defender notched up his fourth goal of the tournament with a deft drag-flick.
Former India captain Sardar Singh injected a delectable PC with van der Weerden changing direction in the last minute to wrong foot the keeper and send a low drive into the left corner of the far post.
At halftime, Punjab led 1-0.
In the third quarter, Clemons stood between the visitors and the elusive equaliser saving twice from two back-to-back penalty corners. From their five chances, Rays could not convert one while Punjab made the most of their one.
A goal from a PC was ruled out for Punjab in the 50th minute as Baljit Singh handled the ball inside the circle. Rays got three back to back PCs near the end of the last quarter but Clemons was up to the task.