30 Nov 2014

Black Sticks win Champions Trophy opener

9:41 am on 30 November 2014

The New Zealand women's hockey team have begun their Champions Trophy campaign with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Japan in Mendoza, Argentina.

Black Sticks captain Anita Punt

Black Sticks captain Anita Punt Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Black Sticks were the dominant side throughout the game - they had eight shots at goal compared to Japan's two, had twice as many circle penetrations, were awarded three penalty corners and held the majority of the possession.

But it took until the fourth quarter before Olivia Merry and Ella Gunson scored the goals.

They next play favourites the Netherlands in the morning. The Dutch beat China 2-0.

The versatile Gunson thinks defence will be key against the world number ones.

Anita Punt and Ella Gunson

Anita Punt and Ella Gunson Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Gunson says the team will have to be strong and stay mobile as the Netherlands have great stick skills up front, so they'll have to step up on defence.

An upset victory would hand New Zealand a chance at a shock pool win, which Gunson says could be crucial as the other pool is stronger.

The group winner gets the chance to play the bottom side out of Australia's Hockeyroos, England, Germany and hosts Argentina in the quarter-finals.