It was a fast and furious game for both Japan and the New Zealand women's hockey teams in Hamilton last night, but the Black Sticks came away with a 4-3 win to take a 2-1 lead in the 5-test series with two games left to play.
The Black Sticks counter-attacked strongly throughout the match taking a 2-1 lead into halftime.
However the Japanese started the second half with vigour Akane Shibata scoring early on.
The Black Sticks Stacey Michelsen, playing her 50th test international, then scored after taking the ball into the circle and firing a strong shot into the far corner of the goal taking New Zealand to a 3-2 lead.
Only moments after the restart, the Black Sticks regained possession and Charlotte Harrison scored off a reverse stick shot which went into the bottom corner of the goal.
Japan continued to apply the pressure and stuck in the game with Misato Katamine scoring only one minute after Harrison.
The rest of the game was end to end play with both teams desperate to score, but neither able to convert.
The Black Sticks held their composure in the final minutes holding possession of the ball until the final whistle.
The two remaining games in the series will be played at North Harbour Hockey Stadium on Wednesday and Thursday.