Johannesburg - The South African men’s hockey team got their World League round two campaign off to a positive start in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, defeating host nation Brazil 9-0 after leading 6-0 at half-time.

Clint Panther scored a hat-trick, wihile Lloyd Norris-Jones secured a brace, and Craig Haley, Austin Smith, Taine Paton and Ricky West added the rest.

“We got on the scoresheet early which meant there was no pressure on us,” said SA coach Charlie Pereira.

“The lads kept their structure, which is important when you play the stronger sides. Our shape was good, but we must be aware of the counter-attack.

“The second half we started badly, didn’t manage the turnover well, gave away soft passes.”

Pereira said he was trying to change the team's mental approach, in terms of maintaining the playing pattern for the full 70 minutes.

“We must attack the lead, mustn’t drop off,” he said.

Pereira looked forward to the second match against the United States on Thursday.

“They are more structured than Brazil. It will be a more thorough examination, and we want to have a full go.”

SA captain Rhett Halkett was outstanding in his first match leading the team.

“The lads made it easy for me. We had a good start to the tournament but there is lots of work to do, as we set high standards for ourselves,” the skipper said.

“Team spirit is phenomenal and we will be up for it against the US.

“It was pleasing to see how we came back after a flat start to the second half and I was proud of the way we stuck in three goals to finish well.”

SA goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse was impressed with the way his defence ensured he had a quiet game.

“I am chuffed that we were able to lock them out,” Pieterse said.

“We have been talking a lot about our defensive structures and setting up a platform for the lads up front.” - Sapa