The Black Sticks scored two second half goals to defeat Japan 2-0 in the second game of the series at Blake Park in Tauranga on Thursday.
Following a goalless first half, the Black Sticks seized control and played with composure and patience on the ball to shut Japan out.
Head coach Colin Batch said the performance was a marked improvement from last night’s draw, with his side stepping up in all areas.
“I think Japan played a lot better tonight and challenged us right through the game. We couldn’t get a lot happening in the first half but we wore them down and stuck to our beliefs and game plan,” Batch said.
“I’m really pleased with our performance tonight. You’ve got to know when to apply pressure and I thought we adapted to that well.
“It’s a 70 minute game and we’ve often questioned our ability to play for the full 70 minutes but I think tonight we established that which is really pleasing.”
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’s home town boy Andy Hayward sealed the result with just two minutes remaining, ripping home a hard and low penalty corner drag flick.
New Zealand now hold a 1-0 series advantage ahead of the third and final test at 5.30pm Friday after being rescheduled due to severe weather warnings on Saturday.