England make it four in a row

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England swept aside the United States 85-23 in the first match of the second phase of the the World Championships in Birmingham last night. It was the team's fourth successive victory, all accomplished with considerable ease.

The top 14 teams - divided into two groups of seven - have now been separated from the 13 weakest. But such is the disparity between teams within those top groups - like England and the USA in Group Y - that the competition is in danger of becoming a procession.

England could afford to reorganise their defence at half-time and use the game as yet another preparation for their first significant clash when they face South Africa today in a group match that will almost surely decide who is to face Australia, the likely finalists in the competition's climax next Saturday.

Liz Broomhead, the England coach said: "It wasn't a good preparation for tomorrow - it wasn't technically stretching us enough. It was quite physical, though, and we know we are in for a physical game."

Australia could still fail to reach the final, but it would be a major upset if any of the other teams in Group Z were able to achieve what New Zealand failed to do by a single point on Thursday.

There was a slight setback for Australia when their top shooter Vicki Wilson had to pull out with a cruciate ligament injury.