Kukri North West Counties Division 3
Leyland Warriors 36 points
Heysham Atoms 22 points
The Atoms made the short journey down the M6 to play Leyland in the eagerly awaited return match after last week’s fireworks in the corresponding fixture. An even contest was expected and both sides delivered a committed performance with Leyland just edging it scoring at crucial times. A try just before the break and one directly after certainly did the trick as Leyland inflicted the Atoms fifth close defeat in a row.
The Atoms picked an experienced side with a youthful looking bench were 3 of their promising youngsters were selected. 16 year olds Dan Helme and James Hainsworth made their debuts joining the previously capped Curtis Lacey. All 3 were outstanding in their attitude and application to the game and fully repaid the faith that the coaches had in them.
As last week Leyland got off to the perfect start scoring wide out on the right with their first real attack. This seemed to awaken the Atoms from their opening slumber as the penny dropped about the importance of concentrating even on the last play. Stuart Lacey, who had a big game in the stand off role, pegged Leyland back into their own territory with his trusty left boot. A period of pressure followed for the Atoms as they maintained good field position close to Leyland's line. A goal line drop out and strong running from Dixon and Crookall took the Atoms close to the line. Mike Marrin was again operating well out of dummy half, spotted a gap and twisted and turned his way over the line. Lacey smacked over the conversion.
The intensity increased as both teams put aside any self preservation as the tackles came flying in. This led to a very exciting game that was expertly refereed by Bob Smithies. A score for either side came in the second part of the half with the hard working Dan Ginocchio being rewarded for his considerable efforts getting on the end of a Lacey punt to the corner.
Leyland crucially scored just before the break after some slack marker play allowed Leyland's hooker to burrow his way under the defenders. Leyland increased their lead straight from the kick off that severly dented the Atoms confidence. This took a while to come back but some dynamic running from Paul Ward and livewire second row Callum Hall finally got the Atoms moving in the right direction again.
Dave McVernon took on the role of the main yardage getter for the Atoms pack and his drives put the Atoms on the front foot. Man of the Match Stuart Lacey showed some excellent Vision and footwork to post the Atoms 3rd score going over untouched close to the poles making his conversion straight forward.
Leyland's second row came more and more into the game as the match wore on and he instigated Leyland's next, long range score. The Atoms were dealt a further blow losing the strong running centre – Dale Bell – with a nasty dislocated elbow.
The Atoms had to regroup and reorganise and spent the next 10 mins struggling to get out of their own quarter. A try was conceeded wide out on the left as a numbers of errors compounded the pressure on them. A short kick off by Lacey was regathered in the Atoms favour with Dixon and then Ginocchio taking the ball up strongly towards Leyland's line. Hartlebury was put into a half gap and that was the only invitation he needed proving unstoppable with the line in his sight. For the 3rd time out of 4 Lacey added the Extras.
The final word of this open game fittingly belonged to Leland as they held onto 3rd spot in the league.
Portrait Pools.com Men of the Match:
1. Stuart Lacey
2. Dave McVernon
3. Dan Helme
Heysham Atoms: J Harrison, M Pike, A Crookall, D Bell, P Ward, S Lacey, A Helme, D McVernon. M Marrin, S Weed, C Hall, D Ginocchio, C Dixon Res : D Helme K Hartlebury, C Lacey, J Hainsworth.
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