New Zealand are now top of pool A in Kuantan.
New Zealand are now top of pool A in Kuantan.
(Photo: FIH)

New Zealand are top of pool A after the second day of action at the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan, Malaysia. The Black Sticks walked away with a 6-1 victory over Japan while Ireland’s Green Machine lost to Poland. The ambitious Polish team took the 2-1 victory thanks to a late Pawel Bratkowski strike. Poland are now second in the pool, followed by Japan, Ireland are last.

Japan v New Zealand 1-6 (0-4)

New Zealand demonstrated their strength by taking home a massive 6-1 win over Japan at the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1. Securing their second win in Kuantan, the Black Sticks are now top of pool A while the Samurais suffered their first defeat in this tournament.

“We are very pleased that we were able to take our chances”, said New Zealand’s captain Dean Couzins. “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.”

The Black Sticks, playing in white today, were first to score when Steve Edwards (6’) slotted in from close range. Kane Russell (12’) doubled the lead soon after, firing home a penalty corner. Because of the hot weather conditions this match was also played in four quarters of 17.5 minutes each.

As soon as the second quarter had started, the Black Sticks extended their lead to 3-0 thanks to an Alex Shaw (19’) field goal. Just before halftime Simon Child (34’) added another goal, making the score 4-0. 

In the second half, Russell (38’) added his second goal of the game with a skilful dragflick. Japan’s consolation goal was scored by Ippei Fujimoto (53’). Another promising Kiwi attack saw Phil Burrows linking well with Stephen Jenness (59’) to cross the line again.

New Zealand, who have qualified for the Rabobank Hockey World Cup starting on May 31st in The Hague, were too strong for Japan winning this match 6-1.

Ireland v Poland 1-2 (0-1)

The crowd at the Hockey Stadium Wisma Belia saw an intense match between Ireland and Poland with chances created by either side. Poland got the better end of it, winning 2-1 thanks to a late Pawel Bratkowski strike.

The first goal in this tough encounter came on the quarter-break as Poland scored from a penalty corner. Bratkowski’s shot was deflected into the net by Krystian Makowski (18’) leaving the Irish goalie David Harte no chance. The second quarter saw both sides winning a penalty corner but both failed to convert.

However, the Green Machine evened the game at 1-1 on 37 minutes when Maurice Elliott (37’) picked up the rebound of a shot and found the bottom of the goal.

Ireland were the stronger side throughout the third quarter but failed to capitalise. The last quarter was a very close affair as both teams defended well and limited each other to very few chances. But Bratkowski eventually scored the winner for Poland when his penalty corner shot found its way past the Irish keeper.