Atoms continue to climb the league table
Kukri North West Counties Division 3
Heysham Atoms 22 points
Hindpool 16 points
The Heysham Atoms continued their recent excellent form with their fourth League victory against local rivals Hindpool from Barrow. These fixtures are usually the most fiercely contested games of the season and this game followed in the same vein. The Heysham Atoms opening 30 minutes to the first half was outstanding building up a 14 nil lead that was never to be relinquished even under the severest pressure as Hindpool fought back hard in the second period.
Coaches Randal Raines and Dave Crow now know what it is like to run a premiership football team as the enforced squad rotation again had to be used. For the second week in succession seven changes in personnel had to be made but the core of the team remained the same.
These changes didn't seem to effect the Atoms too much as they blasted out of the blocks and dominated the early exchanges. Jake Harrison continued his impressive form making some telling yards on kick returns using his extra yard of pace. Stuart Lacey brought off a couple of crunching tackles early in the game before creating the opening score for full back Simon Middlehurst with a deft piece of handling skill.
The Atoms forwards were gaining superiority down the middle of the park, directed by hooker Marrin with prop forwards Hall and McVernon being a particular handful. Veteran centre Brian Cambidge hammered a massive hole in Hindpools defense and Mark Walker picked the right option finding Stuart Lacey wide open on the left wing for The Atoms second try.
The biggest improvement as the season has progressed has been The Atoms completion rate coupled with a fine kick-chase game. This has benefited the team no-end as less work is then required in the defensive duties.
Keith Hartlebury's return to the side has added some steel to the forwards as he carries the ball so strongly. The Atoms third score came with an air of inevitability as they got close to Hindpools line. Liam Halls try scoring record this season is going at one a game and again he proved unstoppable close to the line. No team this season has been able to work him out, they know hes coming but seem powerless to stop him such is the size and determination of the big prop forward to score for his team. Billy Livingstone converted giving The Atoms a comfortable 14 nil lead.
HIndpool finally got some attacking territory and showed how dangerous they could be given the chance, forcing 2 goal line drop outs. Firstly they had a man held up over the line before some slack inside - man defending gave the Barrow side a 6 pointer, which their sustained pressure deserved.The Atoms conceeded first in the second half on the back of a couple of needless penalties and poor defending close to the line allowed the acting half back to sneak over. Hindpool looked a different side with their replacement hooker now operating at dummy half. The score board now read 14-12 and a real game was now in the offing. The Atoms kept inviting pressure onto their own line by giving away unnecessary penalties as the occasion seemed to get to The Atoms.
Hardworking captain Craig Dixon eased the pressure with a 40 yard clean break from the back of the scrum beating the cover and scoring under the posts. This gave The Atoms an 8 point cushion with 18 minutes left to play. A series of high tackles tried the referees patience and Dave McVernon spent 10 minutes in the sin bin. With a man down The Atoms defensive line was stretched to the full but they were somehow able to with stand the pressure only conceding once in the 10 minute period.
The dangerous Billy Livingstone kept a cool head knocking over a decisive penalty restoring The Atoms 6 point lead. A frantic end to the game saw drop goal attempts, half breaks and more penalties with no real clear cut chances arising. Andy Helme snuffed out a dangerous kick, belying his size, rising the highest to claim the ball 5 yards from his own line, with a catch that just had to be made.
A final Hindpool attack was snuffed out in the Atoms left hand corner bundling Hindpools winger into touch with 4 Atoms defenders in attendance, showing how desperate they were for the win.
This was a great, hard fought victory giving The Atoms 5 wins out of 6 which will be excellent preparation for next Saturdays Lancashire Cup clash against Bold Miners from St Helens who play their rugby in division one.
Portrait Pools.com Men of the Match:
1 Mark Walker
2 Billy Livingsone
3 Brian Cambidge
Heysham Atoms: S Middlehurst, J Harrison, S Lacey, B Cambidge, G Winder, B Livingstone, A Helme, L Hall, M Marrin, D McVernon, K Hartlebury, C Dixon, M Walker res. C Helme, D Ginocchio, C Hall, R Nixon
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