27 Apr 2014

Black Sticks open tournament with win

6:42 am on 27 April 2014

The New Zealand men's hockey team have opened their Champions Challenge campaign with a 2-1 win over Ireland in Malaysia.

Due to soaring temperatures around 34 degrees Celsius, the game was split into four 17.5 minute quarters for player welfare.

Steve Edwards opened the scoring for New Zealand in the 11th minute before the Irish responded through Alan Sothern to lock the game up 1-1 at half-time.

Southern striker Hugo Inglis then broke the deadlock six minutes into the second half, hitting home the game winning goal from a deflection in the circle.

Ireland goalkeeper David Harte played a stunning game, denying the Kiwis time after time and keeping his side in the game.

Head coach Colin Batch says it's pleasing to come away with a win first up under trying circumstances.

The Black Sticks play their second pool game of the tournament against Japan at 7pm tonight (NZ time).

The Champions Challenge doubles as a qualifier for the 2016 Champions Trophy with the winner earning an automatic berth, and is also important preparation for the Hockey World Cup which starts at the end of next month in the Netherlands.