The game began with the bitter knowledge that Patna had usurped Bengaluru’s place in the League standing, sending the Bulls down to 4th place and taking their second place position on the podium. Fiercely motivated, Bengaluru’s already historically unforgiving defense took its toll on Patna’s star raiders Rakesh Kumar and Ravi Dalal, who time and time again found themselves under the massive weight of the combined Bulls. But the Pirates were on their home turf, and they were eager for a challenge. Having come away with two unlikely ties in their last matches, they were ready once again to beat the odds. The odds, unfortunately, were on this energized night, unbeatable.
Ravi kicked off the match with a series of stupendous raids, lashing out with hand and foot to slowly pick the defense apart. But by the 4th minute, the Bulls had taken him out with an earth shattering tackle. Rakesh Kumar proved a more difficult challenge for Bengaluru, scoring a touch and then flying back to his own side with explosive power that took any Bengaluru player with him. Patna’s Sandeep Narwal added his own flair to the match, repeatedly taking the high road over the Bull’s defense by jumping far above their heads back to Patna’s side. The trio of Patna raiders proved to be a potent combination, able to take out the entire Bengaluru team in less than 12 minutes. For a fleeting moment, Rakesh’s tenacity seemed ready to end his game early, as a defensive attempt ended in a head injury. Against the protestant gestures of his team however, the possibly concussed Rakesh stayed in the game, a questionable decision for the Patna team that would come back to haunt them.
At 15 minutes in, the scores were set at 17 – 12 in the Pirate’s favor, but 2 dubious calls from the match officials had diminished the Patna side to only 3 players. Bengaluru Captain Manjit Chillar was sent out to mop them up, running towards Rakesh Kumar. Visibily disoriented, Rakesh attempted a sloppy grab on Manjit, who easily escaped, bringing the Patna down to only 2. An empty raid from Patna gave Manjit another chance, but this time was taken down by a whirlwind tackle by Girish Irnak and Sandeep Narwal, earning Patna 2 points and an additional player just in time for halftime.
It was the second half that finally saw Bengaluru Bull’s star player Ajay Thakur come into full splendour, easily tagging out Suresh Kumar and setting up Manjit to complete the all out by removing Waseem Sajjad. With both teams all in, and the scores set at 23 - 24, the game was very much up in the air. A successful raid and another mistake from Rakesh, in the form of a bungled raid brought the Bengaluru bulls ahead to 25 – 24, their first lead of the game. Bengaluru’s Parmod Singh’s 2 touch raid combined with a touch from Manjit brought down Patna to just one player, Ravi Dalal. But even Ravi could not save the Pirates from the resolve of the charged up Bulls, and as the Bengaluru defenders piled on top of him, the score changed to Pirates 27, Bulls 31.
With fulltime approaching, the Patna fans watched on the edge of their seats as the two teams each scoring hard earned points. At 36 minutes, Patna needed to score 5 points to get another tie, and 6 to come away with a final victory. Even with a full team this would be a tall order, but as it stood Patna only had 4 players on the mat. The crowd roared to its feet as Sandeep scored a 2 point raid, and was able to get even louder as the 6 defenders were able to bring down the Captain Manjit Chillar.
But time was against the Pirates, and as Rakesh stepped out with only 20 seconds remaining in the 39th minute of the game, it was once again up to him to save his team from a loss. Ajay Thakur gestured towards his fellow defenders, sweeping his arm back to tell them to let Rakesh be. Ajay knew that if they risked the potential multiple points in a failed tackle, they would give Rakesh the win. But Manjit could not resist. He had been outdone by Rakesh too many times that night, and he broke away from his team to slam into Rakesh’s midsection.
Knocking him to the ground, it looked like the game would end in personal failure for the Patna captain. But Rakesh turned it into an epic personal triump, grasping hold of Manjit and rolling both of their bodies backwards onto the Patna side. But a personal triumph was not a team triumph, and the match ended with Patna falling just short of a tie, with the scores at Bengauru Bulls 37, Patna Pirates 35.