Sharpe goals retain title for Cannock

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Cannock and Hightown claimed the EHL Premiership titles and entry into next year's European Club Championships after victories in two exciting finals here yesterday. Cannock beat Canterbury 3-2 in the men's playoff while Hightown landed a 3-1 win against Ipswich in the women's.

Cannock, the defending champions who finished a point behind Canterbury in the league, overcame the fourth-minute loss of the Welsh international Paul Edwards to a severe facial injury and a 10th- minute Canterbury goal from David Mathews.

Ben Sharpe led Cannock's fightback, diving in at the post to score at close range from a 17th-minute penalty corner. Julian Halls slammed in a second penalty corner nine minutes into the second half, and Sharpe returned from temporary suspension to score his second goal with assistance from Michael Johnson and Martin Jones. A late Canterbury score from Paul Wicken, who touched home a Daniel Laslett cross, set up a frantic final five minutes.

Hightown dominated the opening exchanges against Ipswich, but good saves from Jo Thompson prevented them taking an early lead.

Ipswich then won four penalty corners, but it was Hightown who opened the scoring in the 25th minute as Annette Strange's costly miss on the 25-yard line let in Nikki O'Donnell to set up Cullen for the first of her three goals. Sarah Bamfield equalised for Ipswich, but Cullen struck twice in the second half.