The New Zealand men's hockey team scored two second half goals to defeat Japan 2-0 in Tauranga and take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Following a scoreless first half, the Black Sticks seized control and played with patience on the ball to shut Japan out.
Head coach Colin Batch says the performance was a marked improvement from Wednesday's draw, with his side stepping up in all areas.
The Black Sticks created the better scoring opportunities in the first half, but neither side could find the back of the goal.
Kane Russell opened the scoring in the 42nd minute with a pin-point drag flick into the top right corner from a penalty corner.
Tauranga local Andy Hayward sealed the result with just two minutes remaining, ripping home a hard and low penalty corner drag flick.
The third and final match has been rescheduled from the weekend to 5.30pm tonight due to severe weather warnings on Saturday.