Japan defeated Britain to seal their place in the play-off round ©Facebook/Surrey 2016

Defending champions Japan booked their place in the play-off stage of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Women's Softball World Championship by beating Britain in Surrey, Canada.

The Japanese team had eased to an opening victory in Championship Group 1 yesterday, when they thrashed Chinese Taipei 6-1.

They looked on course for another straightforward win, when Yuka Ichiguchi and Yu Yamamoto scored to give their side a 2-0 advantage in the early stages of the contest.

Britain refused to cave in to the holders, but ultimately were unable to fightback into the match and fell to a 4-2 loss.

With New Zealand beating Chinese Taipei 4-0 in their second match, the Kiwis and Japan were both ensured of taking the two qualification spots to the play-off round, with one match to spare.

Venezuela look set to join the two nations, after they backed up their triumph over hosts Canada yesterday with a straightforward 5-0 win over Italy.

The result sees Italy stranded at the bottom of the standings, while a win for Puerto Rico over Canada tomorrow would take them through with Venezuela from Championship Group 4.

After sitting out yesterday’s action, the United States claimed a comfortable 6-1 win over China in Championship Group 2.

The Championship group stages became clearer after several teams played their second matches ©Facebook/Surrey 2016
The Championship group stages became clearer after several teams played their second matches ©Facebook/Surrey 2016

Victory brought the Americans, who have finished as runners-up at the last two editions of the Championships, level with Australia at the top of the standings.

It followed the Australian team having a day off, after their win over The Philippines.

The Netherlands marked their first match of the Championship round robin stage with a victory over Brazil, with the Dutch running out 9-3 winners.

Cuba, who lost to Brazil yesterday, bounced back to earn a narrow 1-0 victory over Mexico to boost their hopes of advancing to the next round.

Competition is due to continue tomorrow, with the Championship group phase scheduled to conclude on Thursday (July 21).

The top two from each group will make it through to the play-off stage of the tournament.