The New Zealand men's hockey side clinched a morale-boosting 3-0 win over Korea at the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia last night (Tue).
It was a much-needed result for the defending champions after two defeats to Pakistan and Malaysia and they have two more games against India and Australia later this week.
New Zealand coach Colin Batch is using this year's Sultan Azlan Shah tournament as a chance to develop some younger players. At the start of the tournament, there were nine players with less than 10 caps and all except three players are 23 or younger.
"This is a young, developing side so it is about building game by game, and tonight's win was a really positive step forward,'' Batch said. "The whole team stepped it up. We played a really good tight game.''
In last night's game, the Black Sticks took only four minutes to open the scoring when Hugo Inglis deflected in a shot by Stephen Jenness. They doubled their advantage off their first penalty corner in the 12th minute through the impressive Cory Bennett, who hit a low drag flick into the net.
The Black Sticks scored their third seven minutes into the second half when Andy Hayward converted a penalty corner with a powerful drag flick.
Although Korea forced two penalty corners late in the match, New Zealand were convincing and the final result was never in doubt.
"At times we were a little bit sloppy late in the game, so we will look at that,'' Batch said. "We are always looking for improvements but, overall, it is a huge morale booster to beat a quality opposition like Korea.''
The Black Sticks play tomorrow night (11pm) against India who, like New Zealand, have one win and two defeats.
Australia top the table followed by Malaysia on seven points, with New Zealand, India, Pakistan and Korea all with one win and three points.
New Zealand 3 (Hugo Inglis, Cory Bennett, Andy Hayward) Korea 0. HT: 2-0.