Punjab Warriors came from a goal down to eke out a hard-fought 3-2 win over defending champions Ranchi Rhinos to finish on top of the points table of the second edition of Hockey India League (HIL) at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium here on Wednesday.
The win gave Warriors five points to take their tally to 40 from 10 games ahead of Delhi Waveriders (39 points).
Rhinos finished their league engagements at the fourth spot with 26 points from 10 matches.
Rhinos started on a positive note and broke the deadlock in the 14th minute through their first penalty corner which was ably converted by captain Moritz Furste.
Warriors drew parity in the 21st minute when Sandeep Singh converted their second penalty corner with a high drag-flick that beat Rhino goalie Francisco Cortes all ends up.
The visitors had a bright chance to surge ahead in the 27th minute through legendary Australian striker Jamie Dwyer but his shot from close range from a rebound was kept at bay by an alert Cortes in Rhinos goal.
But it didn't take long for Punjab Warriors to take the lead as Australia Kieran Govers converted his side's third penalty corner in the 30th minute to go into halftime with a 2-1 led.
Rhinos drew level in the 40th minute level when Ashley Jackson made use of a penalty corner with a high flick to the left corner of Rhinos goal.
But Sandeep scored another goal from a penalty corner in the 52nd minute to restore Warriors lead and become the top scorer in the tournament with nine goals.
Rhinos got a bright chance to equalize when they earned another penalty corner but this time Jackson's attempt was denied by Jaap Stockmann in Warriors goal.