KUANTAN: Top seeds New Zealand romped to a 6-1 win over Japan to lead Group A in the Champions Challenge 1 hockey tournament.
The Kiwis, ranked sixth in the world, were in an uncompromising mood as they took a 4-0 first-half lead to notch their second win at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium yesterday.
They had defeated Ireland 2-1 in their opening match on Saturday. New Zeland now have six points and a final group match against Poland tomorrow.
Yesterday, the Black Sticks opened their scoring in the sixth minute through a close-range effort by Steve Edwards.
Kane Russell then increased the lead in the 12th minute through a penalty corner drag flick.
Alex Shaw made it 3-0 through a field goal in the 19th minute and Simon Child put his name on the score sheet in the 34th minute.
The Japanese failed to play their usual game and the speed, which they used so effectively to edge Poland 3-2 on Saturday, was sorely missing from their game.
In the second half, Russell added his second goal in the 38th minute from another penalty corner. Japan managed to pull a goal back through Ippei Fujimoto in the 53rd minute.
In the 59th minute, a brilliant one-two by Phil Burrows and Stephen Jenness allowed the latter to slot in a low shot past Japanese goalkeeper Katsuya Takese.
Said New Zealand skipper Dean Couzins: “We are very pleased that we were able to take our chances. With two wins, we are in a good position now although the last three matches are the most important ones.
“We are looking forward to the quarter-finals.”
In another Group A match, Poland beat Ireland 2-1 to register their first win.
Poland scored through Krystian Makowski (18th) and Pawel Bratkowski (67th).
Maurice Elliot scored for Ireland in the 37th minute.