Two early goals set up Auckland to sit joint top of their pool with two wins from as many games at the national hockey league in Wellington today.

A goal from a penalty corner by captain Julia King, then a second from a firm shot by Deanna Ritchie put Auckland in charge against Southern.

But the southerners got one back with Ellie Duncan in the 11th minute, which was unusually early to mark the end of the scoring.

Auckland share top spot in pool A of the K Cup on eight points with defending champions Canterbury, who edged out Central 1-0, courtesy of a Rachel McCann goal from a penalty corner in the first quarter.


But the real action happened in pool B, where Midlands beat Capital 4-1, while Northland beat North Harbour in a thriller by the odd goal in seven.

Former international Gemma McCaw, nee Flynn, had taken a break earlier this year but has returned to strong effect for Midlands. Today she got her second goal in as many games and another three from international Natasha Fitzsimons gave Midlands a decisive victory against a Central side who had longtime Black Sticks Kayla Whitelock and Emily Gaddum in their lineup.

"It took us a while to break them down but credit to our strikers who stuck to the game plan," Midlands captain Sam Charlton said.

Northland and North Harbour were locked at 2-2 after the first quarter, Northland were 4-2 up at halftime. Stephanie Elliott's goal 16 minutes from the end gave Harbour a chance, but Northland, whose goalscorers included Black Sticks Stacey Michelsen and Brooke Neal, hung on.

The men's Challenge Shield resumes tomorrow, after a day off today.