Shevington Sharks 42 pts Vs 22 pts Heysham Atoms
North West Mens Premier Division
Shevington Sharks 42 pts VS 22 pts Heysham Atoms
The final league game of this historic league season saw the Atoms on their travels to face the Sharks of Shevington from Wigan. Only 1 place separated the sides before kick off with a place in the play offs still up for grabs. Unfortunately for the Atoms they could not quite replicate the excellent form that had seen them turn over top 3 sides Haydock and Clock Face on consecutive weekends but they contributed to a thoroughly entertaining game of Amateur Rugby League. For the spectator the game had a bit of everything that this game holds dear – high skill, tough defence and 2 sides willing to attack from any quick ball. Shevington just edged the plucky Atoms with a couple of killer offloads that led to tries and a very enthusiastic middle defensive unit that limited the Atoms desire for quick play the balls. The tight pitch suited the hosts as they got their tactics spot on but the Atoms toiled hard to find a way to release their young and talented outside backs.
A scoreless opening first 15 mins saw both sides battling for supremacy completing their sets and kicking long and chasing hard trying to force the error at the right end of the field. It was the Atoms who cracked first in the 'arm wrestle' conceding a try as their left defence was given a severe examination.
It only took 2 mins for the Atoms to respond as hooker Billy Livingstone darted under the posts after splitting the markers from the dummy half position. There was a bit more flow to the Atoms attacks now and the outstanding Atoms full back Jamie Cottle was usually the instigator showing great evasion and footwork to always beat the first defender, immediately putting his side on the front foot. Kai Davis and Jack Edmonson both had chances on the left edge but it was Shevington who had the accuracy to clinically finish off a move and give the Wigan side a 12.6 lead as time was running out in the half. Tom O'Brian's first spell showed how much he has been improving over the last couple of weeks running strongly into the face of a solid Shevington defence. Winger Kai Davis too caught the eye bringing the ball back away from his own line with some determined runs and making great yards for his team.
The first period of the second half is where Shevington showed some class and just dented any hopes the Atoms had of starting the half well. Two slick moves involving quality offloads gave the Wigan side 12 further points and a nice cushion at 24.6.
Jamie Cottle entered the line and made a couple of telling breaks but on each occasion he was halted by good defence. In form centre Ollie Murray cleared his lines with some brave work but the cohesion in attack wasn't quite there as the Atoms failed to capitalise on these breaks.
Shevington made it 30 points to 6 as the Atoms fell for a dummy close to the line. It was now make or break time for the Atoms with 25 mins remaining and thankfully they woke from their slumber and made a game of it.
The midfield axis of Helme, Lacey and Walker now started to function with more precision and spaces began to appear on the edges. The hard working Al Crookall made a big charge for the line and Liam Hall finished off the move in typical fashion but injured himself in the act of scoring the try.
Helme and Livingstone targeted the short side and a flick pass from the hooker brought the strong running left centre Jack Edmondson his first try of the afternoon. It was now 30.16 with 15 mins remaining and the game back in the balance. Unfortunately Shevington lifted again and scored from what looked like an obstruction try before Jack Edmondson scored his 23rd try of the season rounding off an Atoms attack that swept from right to left.
The versatile Jake Harrison cut back inside from the right wing and made a half break and Jack Edmondson went over for his hat-trick only to be brought back and the try chalked off for a 'Shepard'. Shevington scored the final try of the game with 1 minute remaining and booked their place in the top 4 play offs rounding off a great advert for the game at this level.
The Atoms have competed in every game this year and can be extremely proud of what they have achieved this season in the top flight and can now look forward to build and improve for next season.
Portrait Pools Man Of The Match 1 Jamie Cottle 2 Jack Edmondson 3 Dan Helme