Atoms at the Double
Kukri North West Counties Division 3
Hindpool Tigers 12 points
Heysham Atoms 18 points
When the fixture list comes out at the start of the season this is the one game that is looked for more than any other. A trip to Barrow is always treated with a bit of trepidation and with The Atoms on a five match loosing streak this was always going to be a tough afternoon. The Atoms rose to the challenge superbly and came away with a remarkable victory even playing the last 15 minutes with only 12 men.
Hindpools home form has been impressive all season, being unbeaten on their own turf and taking league leaders Springview to an 18 all draw. The Atoms dug in deep and ground out a victory for the first “double” of the season and their first league win at Duke Street.
Early nerves lead to a few mistakes in The Atoms ranks and the initial play was all directed towards The Atoms line. A goal line ,drop out eased the pressure slightly but not for long as a fired up Hindpool pack hammered on The Atoms defensive line. Fatigue finally played its part as Hindpools strong running loose forward cut a good line to take the first points of the game.
Atoms second row Dan Ginocchio was in inspired form smashing anything in an orange and black shirt that came in his line of sight. His work rate with ball in hand was also impressive and this gave his side a real lift. The backs came into help out their hard working forwards and collectively they took play 50 meters down field led by winger Martin Pike. A Stuart Lacey kick held up nicely in the try area and for the second week in succession Dan Ginocchio was rewarded for chasing the hardest touching the ball down for The Atoms opening score.
In such an intense and physical atmosphere mistakes were always going to happen and both sides were guilty of “coughing up” to much possession. This lead to frustration in both camps and three players entered the sin bin at various stages.
The Atoms had some better territory towards the end of the half but a couple of wrong options were taken and the pressure came to nothing.
Half time 6-6.
It was rammed home to the players at half time that the side that looked after the ball better would win this tight contest.
Hindpool for the second time took the lead scoring 10 minutes after the re-start. Their dangerous scrum half slipped his way out of a number of tackles for a sweeping handling move was finished off in the right hand corner giving the Barrow side a 4 point cushion.
Keith Hartleburys interchange from the bench freshened up The Atoms attack and livingstone and Crookall came more and more into the game.
A penalty from Hindpool in front of the sticks made it a precious 6 point lead. Captain Craig Dixon tackled himself to a stand still playing a vital captains role that his side responded to Mcvernon and Hartlebury got The Atoms within striking distance of the line and Marrin and Hall combined, as so many times this season, to send the big prop forward over for his 19th try of the season. Livingstone converted to bring the scores level and a very tense final quarter.
The Atoms were reduced to twelve men when stand off Stuart Lacey was dismissed for a high tackle. Instead of sitting back the Atoms went looking for a famous victory. The Atoms worked themselves into a good field position on the right hand side before hooker Marrin put man of the match Al Crookall into a gap with a sharp, flat pass. Crookall showed great determination to get his side the vital score which Livingstone again converted.
The Atoms just had enough in the tank to see the game out which was deservedly celebrated well into the night.
Portrait Pools.com Men of the Match:
1. Al Crookall
2. Stuart Lacey
3. Craig Dixon
Heysham Atoms:J Harrison, M pike, B Livingstone, A Crookall, N Walker, S Lacey, A Helme, L Hall, M Marrin, D McVernon, D Ginocchio, C Hall, C Dixon RES. S Weed, K Hartlebury, C Helme, J Hainsworth
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