Mark Hager's beaming face said it all but if that needed endorsement captain Stacey Michelsen's grin punctuated the Black Sticks' women's performance in the Hawke's Bay Cup tournament in Hastings last night.

New Zealand were clinical, calculating but, most of all, composed in the way they went about dismantling South Korea before dangling them in meat-hook fashion in the 6-0 drubbing.

If Australia, Japan and China strategists, the other semifinalists tomorrow, were on the snoop last night they would have found the hosts, on cruise-control mode, somewhat unsettling although a circumspect Hager tempered his satisfaction with a little balance.

"I thought we were pretty tired earlier on and then we got a breakaway goal so that opened it up for a couple of more goals," Hager said, feeling the Koreans had a few chances to halt the slide with counterattacks but his women's defiance in and around the circle quashed any thoughts of a revival.


"We spoke about making the ball do the work rather than the legs so I think when we play the game like that the game becomes so easy, you know.

"You're not running as much and you're not turning the ball over as much because you're making good clinical passes," he said, emphasising that was prevalent perhaps more in the second half before narrowing it down to the third quarter when Korea struggled.

"I'm just happy with the girls who stuck to their task and did it really well."

The Kiwis posted a don't-argue 3-0 halftime lead at the Unison Hockey Stadium on a breathlessly beautiful evening with goals to Olivia Merry (ninth minute), Sophie Cocks (19th) and Anita Punt (21st penalty corner).

Samantha Charlton got on the scorecard in the 47th before Punt 59th (PC) and Merry, just before the hooter, put the Koreans out of their misery.

The Kiwis play the Hockeyroos at 6.15pm in the last semifinal tomorrow in what should be the first litmus test on the road to the Rio Olympics, after the all-Asian Japan versus China affair at 4.30pm.

Losing quarterfinalists India play Canada at 11.30am while Korea take on the plucky Ireland at 1.45pm.

However, the Hockeyroos will demand a different mind set despite any perceived sense of stutters so far.

"They have had the wood on us for the past couple of years. Probably post-London [2012 Olympics] they have won the big games so it's another challenge for us to step up to experience a quality side before Rio in the semifinals," Hager said.

Michelsen echoed her Australian coach's sentiments on their ball movement, particularly in the attacking third where the strikers found cohesiveness very well.

"We shuffled the ball around the keeper quite a lot and it opened up so when you put the ball in it's pretty awesome."

Earlier in the week, she felt the coalface foragers were a little sluggish but had since worked on their patterns and placements around the circle to add some zest.

Michelsen also hailed the back liners for anticipating Korea's traditional swathe of counterattacks by nipping them in the bud outside the circle.

"I think he'll be pretty happy because it's always nice to have a win in the quarterfinals and to do it by that margin is fantastic."

The hot and cold servings against Australia isn't lost on the Blacks Sticks' stable.

"We know that we can play well against them but it's just about that consistency so it'll be a perfect opportunity for us to come up against a really strong team in the semifinals."

In the earlier quarterfinals on day four of the HB Festival of Hockey, Japan beat India 3-1, China made hard work of it before pipping non-Olympic qualifiers Canada 1-0 while the Australians eventually ground down the other non-Olympic side, Ireland, 3-0.

Ireland coach Graham Shaw was delighted his women kept the Hockeyroos honest in the first 20 minutes.

"You're playing against the third best team in the world so you're going to be a little under pressure but I thought we created some very good opportunities but when you're up against a top team you need just take one of them to put them on the back foot. Unfortunately that didn't happen," said Shaw of the Irish who, like the Canadians, are the two non-Rio Olympic bound teams in the tourney.

The Irish women "mixed it up a little at times" to frustrate the Adam Commens-coached Aussies, catching them off the press on the breaks.

"We stepped it up to see if we could force a turnover a little higher up the pitch and we did that to create some nice opportunities but when you don't take them against some of the best teams in the world then you're going to find it very difficult," Shaw said.

Having watched Koreans crumble the Megan Frazer-skippered Ireland will be looking forward to tomorrow's clash.

"It's a game we think we can win," he said, revealing Ireland beat Korea 2-1 in Glasgow almost three years ago in a Champions Trophy quarterfinal clash.