Early goals and strong defence take England to final

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The Independent Online

England moved smoothly into their second successive major final yesterday in Johannesburg when they beat the United States 2-0 in the Champions Challenge and look set to meet South Korea in Sunday's final.

England wrapped up victory with two goals in the opening seven minutes. Mel Clewlow gave England a splendid start in the second minute when she converted their first penalty corner. Five minutes later captain Sarah Blanks scored again at another penalty corner. Although England were unable to add further to their score they were always in command.

The Americans came out of their defensive mode in the second half and although they created a number of chances they were unable to pierce the English defence. England's best second-half chances felt to Anna Bennett and Leisa King, who brought good saves from Margaret Storrar.

England's coach Tricia Heberle, who had been critical of her side when they only scraped a 2-1 win against pointless Russia the previous day, was well satisfied with yesterday's performance. "This was a much more purposeful and consistent performance in cooler conditions relished by all the players," she said. "We played with control from the outset."

After today's rest day England play their last Group match tomorrow evening against South Africa. South Korea edged home 3-2 against India to claim their final place.

ENGLAND: H Rose; F Houslop, M Clewlow, K Walsh, J Bimson; S Blanks (capt), H Richardson, D Marston-Smith; L King, H Grant, L Wright. Substitutes used: K Bowden, A Bennett, I Robertson, A Danson, L Wooding.

UNITED STATES: M Storrar; T Smith, K McCann, M Meerschwan, A Lucas; K Kauffman, T Fuchs (capt), K Smith; C Tagliente, J Reeve, C Lingo. Substitutes used: K Miller, T Larson, N Dawson.

Umpires: M O Lee (S Kor) and C Cornelius (SA).

WOMEN'S CHAMPIONS CHALLENGE (Johannesburg): England 2 USA 0; South Korea 3 India 2. Standings: 1 England (P4, Pts10); 2 S Korea (4-9); 3 India (4-5); 4 USA (4-5); 5 South Africa (3-1); 6 Russia (3-0).

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