Ranchi: A rampaging Ranchi Rays drubbed Kalinga Lancers 7-2 to mark their first win of the Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) at the AstroTurf Hockey Stadium here on Thursday.
After Ashley Jackson gave them a 1-0 lead with a successful penalty corner conversion in the 23rd minute, Ranchi showcased fluent and aggressive hockey and found the field goals, with each counted as two in the tournament, from Sumit (30th), German forward Christopher Ruhr (31st) and Manpreet Singh (44th).
The huge win helped Ranchi move up to the second position with eight points from three games, while despite the loss, Kalinga remained at the top with 10 points from three games. Dabang Mumbai, who have seven points from two matches, are third, while Uttar Pradesh Wizards are fourth with a point from as many game.
Ranchi, who drew their opener against Dabang Mumbai and lost to Kalinga in Bhubaneswar, were determined to make the best out of their opening home game. They played a high-intensity game, dominated possession and penetrated Kalinga's defence regularly.
German Ruhr was at the forefront of their attack and the 23-year-old this edition's import was in a position to put the hosts ahead towards the end of the first quarter but he became impatient and fired his shot wide of the left post.
They, however, upped the ante as soon as the second quarter began, earning a penalty corner in the very first minute. But Jackson's lethargic flick failed to challenge Kalinga's Australian goalkeeper Andrew Charter.
But the English set-piece specialist rectified himself in the next opportunity which came in the 23rd minute. His flick hit the left pad of Andrew Charter and went in, with final defender Moritz Furste stranded.
Kalinga responded strongly to the goal but their star striker Glenn Turner fluffed two close-range chances. They earned a penalty corner too, but home team goalkeeper Tyler Lovell was not troubled by Gurjinder Singh's flick which went straight at him.
With the visitors not making their chances count, Ranchi made sure that Kalinga continue to suffer as Sumit's drive from close range moved past Charter, giving the hosts a 3-0 lead at the stroke of the half-time.
One minute into the third quarter, Ranchi showed their ruthlessness as Jackson's solo run from the half-line saw him feed Ruhr at the top of the circle and the German lifted the ball in past changed goalkeeper Abhinav Pandey to make it 5-0.
Despite the handsome 5-0 lead, the home teams didn't relent and three minutes later Jackson had the chance for his second penalty corner conversion but this shot flew wide.
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However, the goals kept coming. Gurbaj Singh intercepted at the half-line on the right and charged forward before finding an unmarked Manpreet with a precisive cross at the left post. And Manpreet only had to guide the ball in to make it an impregnable 7-0 in the 44th minute.
Already out of the contest, Kalinga pulled two goals back with Lalit Upadhyay tapping home a base-line cross from Aran Zalewski in the 49th minute.
The goal failed to lift the spirit of the visitors, whose defensive structure had a day to forget.