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Black Sticks men surge into semis in Glasgow

MATT RICHENS IN GLASGOW
Last updated 00:08 01/08/2014
Andy Hayward
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ

WICKED SHOT: Andy Hayward kicks up water from the turf as he takes a shot during the Black Sticks' 6-1 victory over Malaysia.

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The New Zealand men's hockey team topped their pool with a 6-1 thumping of an out of sorts Malaysia.

The Black Sticks will now meet the winner of the South Africa-India match - played overnight - in their Commonwealth Games semifinal match and are guaranteed to at least play-off for a medal. 

The unbeaten men's team started well with an early goal at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre, but were unable to break the Malaysians down for much of the rest of the first half.

They had a lot of possession and passed well, but only turned that into domination on the scoreboard after the break.

Andy Hayward scored the Kiwis' opener with a typically bullish drag-flick from the side's only penalty corner of the first half while Brad Shaw scored the second. 

Shaw, who did not make the squad for the World Cup in the Netherlands last month, but was brought in to boost the side's defence, picked up the ball in the middle of the turf and ran strongly in traffic. 

Even with three Malaysians trying to relieve him off possession Shaw continued before a space at the top of the circle opened up and the Canterbury defender was able to get away a shot which skimmed wide of Malaysian goal keeper Hafizuddin Othman.

That gave New Zealand a 2-0 halftime lead in the Scottish drizzle, but the floodgates opened in the second spell including a seven minute period where New Zealand found the back of Othman's net four times. 

While the Commonwealth Games are motivation enough, the men's team had another motivator tonight in Glasgow.

The last time they met Malaysia, they were embarrassed by the world No 13 in the Champions Challenge in Malaysia. 

New Zealand had won their pool and met Malaysia, the other pool's fourth ranked team, in the knock-out crossover. 

The Malaysians humbled Colin Batch's side, racing out to a 4-1 lead. The Kiwis were able to pull it back to 4-4 only to lose in a shoot-out. 

"We were all disappointed walking off the pitch," Couzins wrote in a column for Fairfax Media before the tournament. "We had a bad 15-minute period against them last time and those things sting and stay with you for a bit so we'll be desperate to put it right this time."

And they did in the second half.

They passed well, ran strongly and with purpose on and off the ball and created plenty of opportunities.

Malaysia scored a consolation goal in the second half which would have irked Batch and the defenders, but the job was well and truly done by then. 

The winner of the India-South Africa match will prove much tougher, but winning well not only exorcised a number of the side's demons and sent the message they're keen and ready to improve on the bronze medal won in Delhi.

New Zealand 6 (Andy Hayward 2, Brad Shaw, Nick Haig, Hugo Inglis, Shea McAleese) Malaysia 1 (Razie Bin Abd Rahim) HT 2-0

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