Bergische Lions were able to give Rhine-Neckar Lions a decent run for their money for fifty minutes on the road in the SAP Arena in the opening encounter of the remaining program in the DKB German Handball League, but then fell behind due to several time penalties and so lost 24:30 (13:12) – a final scoreline that does not do justice to their efforts.
Although the BHC needed almost four minutes to get off the mark, the Lions then found their rhythm and captain Viktor Szilagyi chalked up his third goal to tie the scores at 4:4 in the 8th minute. Mario Huhnstock, who was in fine fettle from the outset, kept the scores tied by saving against Uwe Gensheimer on a fast break, and a little later Arnor Gunnarsson equalized again with a seven-meter penalty (5:5 in the 11th minute), then stole possession from Rhine-Neckar Lions on the subsequent attack to enable Szilagyi to break and bury the ball in the net to give the BHC the lead for the first time. Since the home side kept on finding a gap at the crease against the visitors’ aggressive and offensive covering, the game remained tight. The BHC – with a calm, yet totally focused performance against the 5:1 variant of the opposing side from Baden-Württemberg with Uwe Gensheimer in a forward position – managed to keep on finding the net and was deservedly ahead by 7:8 after the first quarter of an hour.
The home side had to expend a lot of effort to keep the BHC in check and snatched the lead again after a goal by David Ganshorn (10:9 in the 20th minute) – after which Niklas Landin saved a shot from pivot Weiß, while at the other end Mario Huhnstock prevented his side falling two behind against Gensheimer on a break. While Kim Ekdahl du Rietz was sitting out a penalty, Milos Dragas produced a sizzling shot from the backcourt to tie the scores again and, after Christian Hoße put his side in front, goalkeeper Landin was also given a two-minute penalty for complaining. In this spell, Milos Dragas and Christian Hoße stretched the lead to 11:13 (28th minute), but then saw Patrick Groetzki pull the score back to 12:13 with their side shorthanded up to the half-time buzzer – a lead that Bergische Lions definitely deserved.
At the start of the second half, the Rhine-Neckar Lions stepped up the pace and so tried to increase the pressure on the BHC; at the same time, the 4,132 spectators slowly came out of hibernation. Mads Mensah Larsen equalized and Christian Hoße’s shot flew past the far post at the other end, allowing Petersson to put his side back ahead on the next attack (14:13 in the 33rd minute). A little later, Mario Huhnstock produced another brilliant save as Uwe Gensheimer stormed free toward him, after which Maximilian Weiß made it 15:15 in the 35th minute. In the next ten minutes up to the start of the final quarter of an hour, players from both sides kept on taking turns to sit out time penalties, although neither team was able to capitalize on having an extra man. It was not until the BHC were two men short when Maximilian Weiß and, just a minute later, Mario Huhnstock were penalized that the team of Nikolaj Jacobsen was able to build a decisive lead (21:18) against a strong Lions team.
The BHC went into the final quarter of an hour with a three-goal handicap (20:23) and continued to fight valiantly, but was no longer able to sustain any really pressure due to further time penalties – the final result of 30:24 for the home team felt like too wide a margin. “We mainly focus on our game," the BHC’s Head Coach Sebastian Hinze had said going into the tussle with the league’s top team and was probably very happy with how his team played over large stretches.