Wright shines in splendid weekend

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The verdict of the England coach Tricia Heberle was simple. "Pleased with the weekend. We have learnt a lot," she said after her team's reconnaissance of the pitches here and in Abbeville where they will be returning next month for World Cup qualifiers. "Our attacking play has been good but we have work to do in the midfield and we have received reminders in defence."

On Saturday, with hat-tricks from Jane Smith and Purdy Miller, England started the day with a 13-0 thrashing of Belgium and, in the afternoon, beat France, their first opponents in the qualifiers, 3-2 in a dour game in which the French put up a blanket defence for long periods. Casual defending in the closing minutes allowed the French to slip in two goals after England had built up a 3-0 lead.

England owed much to the innovative work of Tina Cullen in her new role on the left of the midfield. Yesterday, in a 7-0 win against the French, England were always in the driving seat after Cullen had gone through a packed defence in the 13th minute to provide Smith with the first goal of her first-half hat-trick. Anna Bennett scored the fourth, while second-half goals from Helen Grant, Lucilla Wright and a second from Bennett completed the rout. Smith, like Cullen, appears to be relishing her positional change, having moved from midfield to striker.

WOMEN'S INTERNATIONALS (Amiens and Abbeville): Belgium 0 England 13; France 2 England 3; France 0 England 7. Men's Six Nations Under-21 Tournament (Poznan): England 2 Germany 2; India 6 Poland 0; Russia 1 Malaysia 6. Final standings: 1 Germany 13pts; 2 India 10; 3 England 7; 4 Malaysia 6; 5 Poland 6; 6 Russia 0. Women's Champions Trophy (Amstelveen): China 0 Argentina 2; Netherlands 2 Spain 1; New Zealand 1 Australia 5; Netherlands 2 Argentina 1.

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