Hindley 21pts vs 6pts Heysham Atoms
North West Mens Premier Division
The Atoms lost their 5th league game of the season on a tough assignment away in Wigan. Persistent rain before and during the game made conditions difficult and the small pitch certainly stifled the Atoms attacking intent. There wasn't too much to split the two teams on the day and with such small small margins deciding the outcome it was the bounce of the ball or an error here and there that was the separating factor.
With such a tight game it took until the 20 minute mark for the first points to be scored. The all important battle ground of the middle area was where most of the early action was taking place as both sides tried to assert their dominance. On a day like today the kicking game was going to be crucial and the Hindley stand off certainly found his range on his own patch. A kick deep into Atoms territory allowed the keen Hindley chasers to pin the Atoms full back behind his own line forcing a goal line drop out. The Atoms defended their second set of six with the required determination but the kick at the end of the set was so well placed it gave the Hindley outside back just enough space to ground the ball close to the right corner flag. The Hindley stand off showed he was equally adept at place kicking as he converted from the side lines for a 6 – nil lead.
The Atoms were well in the game but found it difficult to get out of their own half as they were constantly turned around and had to bring the ball back up the hill.
Clean breaks were hard to come across for both sides but a flash of quick feet from Jack Lawton got him around his opposite number down the touch line only for the Hindley full back to come up with an excellent cover tackle to nullify the threat.
With such a slippy ball the error rate was remarkably low and the completion rate high and in the game of chess it came down to nerve and who could concentrate for the longest periods. Lacey's excellent kicking out of hand gave the Atoms chasers plenty to run for which they did with real enthusiasm which in turn gave them good field position but they just couldn't find the killer play to add the points.
There was a noticeable improvement from the Atoms at the start of the second half. Their defensive line speed increased and aggression into contact was far more enthusiastic as the Atoms looked to make a big statement.
Cottle, Murray and Forrest were becoming more of a threat as the pace and movement of the side increased also.
Just as the Atoms looked to be gaining the upper hand it was the combination of an another handling error coming away from their own line that gifted Hindley cheap possession. The 3rd Hindley try came again from a well placed kick at the end of the set giving the Wigan side an 18 – nil lead. The Atoms now had to find 4 scores to overcome the opposition in the remaining 25 minutes.
The in form Atoms second rower Callum Hall made a strong charge down the middle of the park and stand off Lacey spotted a big gap between the defensive line and the Hindley full back and chipped and chased into the open space. He hacked ahead as did the the aware Atoms winger Michael Forrest and he won the foot race to the touchdown which Billy Livingstone converted.
The committed fight back was on and Ginocchio, Helme and Lacey came up with some outstanding defensive efforts as the Wigan side still posed an attacking threat.
Territory was at a premium on such a small pitch and an Atoms penalty backed them up into their own half then to compound matters they gave away a second penalty for a shoulder charge but this time it was in kicking range which was gratefully accepted in such a tight game.
The Atoms were mustering up everything they had from their depleted energy stocks but just couldn't find that all elusive break as the Hindley side could sense a hard earned victory.
The final points of a 9 – 6 half came in the form of a one point drop goal to Hindley as they secured the vital competition points.
On reflection the Atoms coaches could not have asked for any more in terms of effort and commitment but their attack lacked their usual sharpness and were kept in single figures for the first time in 19 games this season.
Portrait pools Man Of The Match 1 Callum Hall 2 Michael Forrest 3 Tom Crookall