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Canterbury Hockey Club's Susannah Townsend and Grace Balsdon help England to winning start at Commonwealth Games

By KentOnline reporter

Canterbury Hockey Club duo Grace Balsdon and Susannah Townsend were both on target as England's women opened their Commonwealth Games campaign with a 2-0 win over South Africa.

England produced a dominant performance, particularly in the first half and their victory margin at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre could have been bigger but for South African goalkeeper Phumelela Mbande who pulled off a number of important saves.

Balsdon broke the deadlock in the 11th minute beating Mbande to her left with a powerful drag flick at a corner, and nine minutes later her clubmate Towsend doubled England's lead with a clever backhand finish after good build up play down the right from Ellie Rayer and Alex Danson

Canterbury's Grace Balsdon celebrates scoring England's opening goal in the 2-0 win over South Africa at the Commonwealth Games
Canterbury's Grace Balsdon celebrates scoring England's opening goal in the 2-0 win over South Africa at the Commonwealth Games

Chances became less frequent as the game went on but England, the No.2 seeds, rarely looked troubled against the team who have finished fourth at the last two Games.

Speaking after the match captain Danson – who has become the fifth female to play in four Commonwealth Games – said: "We are delighted with strong first half and very professional second half performances. It's three points and a solid start to the tournament.

"It's time now to take recovery and what we need from the game before looking forward to playing Wales tomorrow."

Holcombe's Ellie Watton was also part of the squad. England were silver medallists in Glasgow four years ago.

England next play Wales – who stunned India in the tournament’s opening game with a 3-2 win – at 10.30am on Friday.

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