North West Mens Premier Division
Haydock 26pts vs 35pts Heysham Atoms
After four painful defeats the Atoms finally restored some belief with a confidence boosting win away at top three side Haydock from St Helens. Haydock have a reputation for some fine attacking plays and have been on a run of wins that has seen them scoring lots of points against good opposition so this return to form for the Atoms was even more satisfying.
All 17 played their part in a true team win but individually there were some stand out performances. Winger Jack Lawton continued his run of recent excellent form with his first senior hat trick of tries, Al Crookall and Phil Riley ran their blood to water for the cause and Dan Ginocchio finally got the recognition he deserves for the effort and enthusiasm he brings to the team.
A shaky start for the Atoms saw them concede early possession and then allowed Haydock to take an early lead far too easily for their liking being undone with a simple handling move.
The response wasn't immediate this week but it came on the back of some steady play that got the Atoms heads in the game. A completed set and an accurate kick from stand off Lacey trapped the Haydock winger behind his own goal line. The chase was energetic from kicker Lacey and Helme forcing a handling error into the bargaining. The ball hit the floor and the ever alert Jake Harrison pounced on the loose ball for the opening Atoms try.
The Atoms forced more pressure gaining another goal line drop out. Unfortunately the ball was spilled on the second tackle resulting in a Haydock scrum. Direct from the scrum the Atoms made a wrong defensive read and Haydock's lively full back sprinted 80 yards up field to score.
On the 28 minute mark a similar line break from Jake Harrison saw him break from the base of the scrum and go full length to score his second try of the contest.
As the end of the half was drawing near stand off Lacey slotted over a drop goal, after Cottle had put Matty Short away, to give the Atoms a slender 1 point lead at 13.12.
The last play of the half brought the try of the game coming from a well rehearsed penalty move that had the coaching staff beaming with delight. 3 planned plays saw the ball transferred from one side of the pitch to the other with real precision with winger Jack Lawton squeezing into the corner by the left hand corner flag for a 17.12 half time lead.
The Atoms opened up the second like they had finished the first and soon had the score board ticking over again. Ollie Murray, who was having his best game in Atoms colours, made a strong carry right into the heart of the Haydock defensive line. The ball was moved back to the blind side in a move involving Helme, Cottle and the strong running Walker who all combined to put winger Jack Lawton in at the corner.
The Atoms were unlucky not to extend their lead when Al Crookall forced his way over the line on an inside pass, only for him to loose possession in the act of scoring.
Haydock threw everything at the Atoms and were putting the ball wide on every available opportunity but a wayward pass was intercepted by Jack lawton who sprinted away for his Hat trick with a quarter of the game remaining.
Lacey banged over an easy 2 point penalty before the Atoms man of the match Jamie Cottle scored his 15th try of the season making a clean break in the left centre channel. His arcing runs from full back were a constant threat and a potent attacking weapon for the Atoms.
At 35.18 in the Atoms favour it was time for the dangerous Haydock backs to give it one last push for victory. The Atoms came under some severe pressure and 2 unconverted tries made for an interesting final few minutes. Ginocchio and Forrest performed heroics under the high ball to avert any more danger as it became very uncomfortable for the Heysham side.
The Atoms finally got their hands back on the ball and sensibly saw the game out for an outstanding away victory that cements their top 5 position in the league.
Special mention goes to inter change players Tom O'Brian and Chris Strachan who produced fine performances which maintained the intensity that was required to secure victory.
Portrait pools man of the match : 1 Jamie Cottle 2 Dan Ginocchio 3 Dan Helme
Grand Final Tickets / coach still available - contact Rob Shaw 07855 369308