A brace from Sophie Bray guided England to victory over Poland in their opening Hockey World League Semi-Final clash in Johannesburg.
Bray’s double and a second half strike from Alex Danson saw England notch up a comfortable victory and get their campaign in South Africa off to the perfect start.
England’s dominant performance will give them confidence ahead of their upcoming pool A fixtures with Japan, Ireland and Germany as they battle to progress to the World League Finals in New Zealand later in the year.
It didn’t take long for England to make their mark on the match when Sophie Bray struck after just three minutes. After stealing the ball from a Polish defender inside the opposition area and darting past another, with only the keeper to beat the forward kept her composure and fired between the goalkeeper’s legs.
England continued to dominate and went close through Giselle Ansley’s drag flick and Lily Owsley’s strike before Bray found the net once again. Alex Danson found space at the top of the circle launching a strike at goal and Bray was on hand to get a clever touch in front of the goalkeeper to double the lead before the first break.
The second quarter saw England in total control of proceedings, owning the ball and playing with a lot of confidence, causing Poland problems while remaining solid in defence and were unfortunate not to lead by more at half-time.
Poland responded in the third quarter calling Maddie Hinch into action and she was equal to the task to keep England’s two goal lead intact. Shortly into the final quarter England put further distance between themselves and Poland, a fine team move released Danson in the circle and she lifted her effort over the goalkeeper on the reverse.
A mazy run from Danson saw her beat three players but she was then bundled to the ground and awarded a penalty stroke. However Giselle Ansley pushed her effort wide of the right post but this was to be the only blip of the game for England as they kept up their intensity to the end and secured victory.
Next up for England are Japan on Wednesday starting at 3pm UK time. Every game from the Women’s World Hockey League Semi-Finals is live on BT Sport.
England XI: Maddie Hinch (GK), Laura Unsworth, Giselle Ansley, Hollie Webb, Susannah Townsend, Anna Toman, Sarah Haycroft, Emily Defroand, Sophie Bray, Nicola White, Alex Danson (C)
Subs (used): Hannah Martin, Grace Balsdon, Lily Owsley, Shona McCallin, Jo Hunter
Sub (unused): Amy Tennant (GK)