Pune, October 20: In a memorable Maharashtra Derby, Puneri Paltan triumphed over rivals U Mumba by a solitary point and won by a scoreline of 33-32 at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, handing U Mumba their first defeat of the campaign.
Captain Girish Maruti Ernak led the team in defence with a High 5 and raider Nitin Tomar contributed 13 raid points in the team's victory.
The first half was a close contest as U Mumba and Puneri Paltan matched each other blow-for-blow. U Mumba loaded the left side of their defence with Dharmaraj Cheralathan and Fazel Atrachali to put a hold on Nitin Tomar. But the raider outsmarted U Mumba and stuck on the right side of the mat, forcing defenders into making ill-timed tackles.
With the score at 8-7 and Atrachali on the bench, Tomar got a two-point raid, opening the floodgates for Puneri Paltan. Tomar got Rajaguru Subramanian and the defence got substitute Vinod Kumar to inflict an All-Out on U Mumba.
Tomar then got Atrachali for the second time in the half to push his team's lead to six. Raider Siddharth Desai got a bonus in the final raid of the half, as Puneri Paltan went into the break leading 17-12
U Mumba kicked off the second half on the right note as rookie sensation Desai got a Super Raid to reduce Puneri Paltan's lead to just three.
Tomar kept the score ticking for his side and, with his second bonus point of the half, completed a Super 10; his fourth of the season. But Desai wasn't too far behind, as he got Tomar on his raid to also complete his fourth Super 10 of the campaign.
With just Ravi Kumar left on the mat, More GB came on a substitute as U Mumba closed in on an All-Out. But he produced a Super Raid to revive two teammates, handing a big break to his team. Puneri Paltan captain Girish Maruti Ernak made full use of the revival, getting a Super Tackle on Abolfazl Maghsodlou to push his team's lead to five.
With just over 10 minutes left, substitute Abhishek Singh got Ernak, swinging the momentum back into U Mumba's favour and kicking the game into overdrive.
Desai went in for a raid with just two men left on the mat for Puneri Paltan and for a moment it seemed like the raider had been tackled. But Desai made good use of his lower body and got his leg over the midline to get both men and inflict an All-Out.
With the score at 28-27, Tomar got two straight points for his team in two raids but Desai yet again fired back with a two-point raid to keep Puneri Paltan's lead at one.
In his next raids, Desai sent captain Ernak to the bench and Vinod Kumar tackled Tomar on a Do-Or-Die raid to level the score at 31-31.
With under a minute left in the match, Desai went in for a Do-Or-Die raid with just three Puneri Paltan players on the mat and stepped into the lobby, handing the opposition a Super Tackle and ending his team's chances of winning the match.
U Mumba did get the final point of the match as Atrachali tackled More out of bounds, but it was too late as the clock ran out and Puneri Paltan held on to win a memorable contest by a scoreline of 33-32.