North West Mens Premier Division
The last home game of the season produced the best Atoms performance of the year. The win against Haydock last weekend gave the Heysham side a timely confidence boost and they carried the good form into this weeks game against second placed Clock Face from St Helens. Clock Face still had designs on catching West Bank at the top of the pile but this defeat means runners up spot looks like all they will be able to achieve.
Spiral bomb kick offs have caused the Atoms problems all season and today was to be no different as the first kick off produced a goal line drop out. The atoms saw off the early danger and worked their way up field on the back of a accurate kick and chase from Lacey. An error was forced and the ball was turned over and the early pressure brought points for Atoms hooker Billy Livingstone who darted through a gap close to the ruck.
On 12 minutes the ever improving Olly Murray benefited from a Livinstone blind side attack to give the Atoms an 8 nil lead.
The Atoms invited pressure onto their own line with penalties and errors and such was the quality of the opposition this was all the invitation they needed and a converted try was added. The physical encounter in the middle of the park was one to savour as both sides fought for every inch of territory. Some well placed kicking from the Clock Face stand off put the Atoms under further pressure but the Atoms man of the match and full back Michael Forrest repeatedly got his side out of trouble with some slippery footwork and determined running. Even he couldn't prevent Clock Face taking the lead as firstly another goal line drop out was conceded and then their influential second rower found a gap as he ran round from the open to the blind side to give his side a 12 . 8 half time lead.
The second half was as good as it gets for the Atoms who have exceeded all expectations this season. The Pack as a unit were tested severely but they weathered the storm and started to come out on top with some determined running and defending. The reliable trio of Ginocchio, Walker and Crookall started to dominate their opponents and Jake Harrison in the left centre continually broke the first line of defenders with some strong carries.
Olly Murray came up with a fantastic piece of defending preventing a certain score as Clock Face attacked the Atoms right defence. The Atoms re-grouped and Lawton went close chasing a Lacey kick. Re-placement winger Kai Davis made an immediate impression on his return to the side finishing off a slick handling move from the centre to the right.
From this point on the confidence grew and the Atoms took control of proceedings. The energy and enthusiasm of the team seemed to lift as the St Helens side upped the tempo and chased down the game. Billy Livingstone got his second try of the game in somewhat fortunate circumstances as he kicked ahead and picked up the rebound off a Clock Face player going close to the posts to make the conversion more gettable.
With 15 mins remaining the Atoms got the vital score that increased the lead to 12 points. In form Jack Lawton picked up a loose pass and sprinted away into the left hand corner. The Clock Face full back made a valiant effort to stop the flying winger but he just had enough determination to score close to the corner flag.
Clock Face threw everything they had left at the Atoms but the defence just wouldn't yield and again Michael Forrest was solid as a rock.
Dan Helme capped a fine performance as he intelligently fired over a drop goal to make the St Helens side score 3 times if an unlikely victory was to be theirs.
The atoms saw out the final 9 minutes defending strongly and comfortably keeping hold of the ball as the seconds ticked away.
To keep a side of this quality to nil in the second half took a tremendous effort and a lot of energy and showed the Atoms had got their tactics spot on.
Youngster Mitch Chapman made his first team debut in the second half coming into the crucial pivot role and slotted straight in with no fuss and showed he is definitely a name to look out for as his career takes off.
Portrait Pools Man of the Match :1 M Forrest 2 O Murray 3 S Lacey
The game on Saturday took its toll as they lost winger Jack Lawton with a broken thumb but better news as centre Olly Murray has been selected for international honours representing Scotland under 19's in the up coming home nations competition.
Grand Final Tickets / coach still available - contact Rob Shaw 07855 369308