Jalandhar: Punjab Warriors will have revenge on their minds when they face Ranchi Rhinos for the second time in three days in the Hero Hockey India League here on Monday. Rhinos had beaten Warriors 2-1 at the latter's home, before the teams played out a 1-1 draw in Ranchi on Saturday.
Warriors would be keen to settle the scores before the teams get ready for the knockout stages this weekend. Having beaten by Rhinos at home, Warriors would try everything possible to avoid a repeat at Surjit Singh Hockey Stadium here tomorrow.
Both the teams might have already qualified for the semi-finals, but there is still a lot at stake. There is every chance that they could face each other in one of the two semi-finals on Saturday, and hence, both teams would like to treat this game as the dress rehearsal of the semi-final.
Had it not been due to Jaap Stockmann's outstanding performance under the bar on Saturday, Warriors could have easily conceded 4-5 goals against the Rhinos. And that means that the home team's defence has some scope to improve.
"Having already qualified for the semis allowed us to try out a few different combinations on the field," Warriors skipper Jamie Dwyer explained after Saturday's game.
Monday's match gives them another and possibly last opportunity to do a few more experiments before they settle for their final combination for the knockout stage. Rhinos, on the other hand, played without their influential skipper Rovers, who was ill, on Saturday. The visitors would hope to have him back, as they missed his creativity a lot against the Warriors.
Warriors created at least four-five penalty corners on Saturday, but despite having drag flickers like Rupinder Pal Singh and Christopher Crielo, were unable to convert even one. That is one thing the Warriors would like to improve upon before the knock-out stages.
Rhinos played a very aggressive game on Saturday, but were missing that final touch that would have resulted in a goal. They entered the Warriors' circle on a number of occasions, but had just one goal to show for their efforts. The Rhinos team think tank would like to see their young team to convert a few more opportunities, to give their already solid defence a little more margin for error.
In the semis, the top team plays fourth placed team, while second placed team clashes with the third placed team. Both these teams would be keen to finish above the fourth placed team, so that they can avoid top side in the semis.
Ranchi Rhinos coach Gregg Clark said: "We have met Punjab Warriors twice and we have got to know many things about them. We drew last match, where we didn't materialise chances. This time, we will improve our performance and materialise the chances we will get."
Punjab Warriors captain Jamie Dwyer said that their team have learnt a lot from the previous matches and will use the experience on Monday.
"It was an interesting last match for us against Ranchi Rhinos. I think the travel and play will take a lot out of Ranchi in the next game. It will hurt them a lot because they do not have enough experience of Jalandhar conditions. It will be good for us to beat them and get the necessary momentum going into the semi-final," Dwyer said.
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