North West Mens Premiership
This was billed as the Heysham Atoms toughest game to date of the premiership season so far. The Vikings are the reining premiership runners up and were beaten finalists in this years National Cup. The Atoms rose to the challenge and although they were hampered by the loss of form strike players Jamie Cottle, Matty Humpage, Al Crookall, and Mark Walker, even before they started they still could have been very proud of their performance.
The result in no way reflected the game as a contest and a young, enthusiastic Atoms side containing 7 of last years under 18s squad were right in the game up until the final 10 mins. The experience gained will be invaluable as the season roles on and will give them confidence to know they can compete at this level.
Michael Forrest deserves a special mention as he moved from the wing to the full back role and put in a man of the match performance for an all action display that was amazing considering his tender years. He made at least 3 try saving tackles at crucial times during the game when the Atoms were under the coshe.
The opening 20 mins were probably the worst in the game in terms of quality for the Atoms and in this period they spent most of their time defending their line. The pain was mostly self inflicted as they did not respect the possession of the ball but their resilience to keep their line in tact was admirable. The problem with this is that the energy stocks become depleted and it catches up with you at some time during the game. Unfortunately it caught up with the Atoms in the crucial last 10 mins of the contest when they were out on their feet.
The first try of the game was a Widnes one on 18 mins before the Atoms finally got into the game and looked like a capable attacking force. Hooker Dan Helme benefited from an energised pack who were now moving forward and he found skipper Liam Hall with a short pass and the big prop forward did the rest. Michael Forrest converted for an unlikely 6 . 4 lead to the Atoms.
An attack close to the Atoms line was superbly defended by Ginocchio and Forrest on the last tackle. The Atoms now looked to clear their lines but a ball steal one on one gave Widnes an opportunist try.
St Maries took the lead to a 10 point margin as half time approached scoring a 3rd try against a tiring Atoms looking defence.
A couple of personnel changes livened things up for the Atoms and they began to have a real go. Andrew Collins made a welcome return after a number of weeks away and was constantly involved in the action but more importantly getting right under the skin of the Widnes team.
The hard working Daniel Helme for the 2nd time put his captain Liam Hall into a gap around the ruck for his brace of trys again converted by Forrest.
At this point the momentum was all with The Atoms and they now looked very dangerous with ball in hand. Edmondson, Livingstone and Lawton all made clean breaks but a combination of good defending and lack of support prevented these being turned into Atoms points.
St Maries decided that the only way to relieve the pressure was to punch and bully their way out of trouble. The Atoms are now made of sterner stuff and stood their ground under some intense provocation. Unfortunately yellow cards were inevitable but The Atoms seemed to come off worse with the reduced numbers as they lost a centre and The Vikings lost a prop.
The Atoms right defence now came under increasing attack and only some sterling work from Stuart Lacey and Forrest prevented further scores.
Curtis Lacey was aggressive in his tackling and running all day long and a strong charge to the line created a 4 on 2 over lap but unfortunately the ball was kept hold of for that split second to long and the St Maries defenders snuffed out the danger.
A Livingstone chip and chase nearly got winger Jack Lawton away but the ball just beat him to the side lines.
All that remained was a strong 10 min finish from the Widnes side that cruelly dented the Atoms chance of winning as they scored 3 converted trys. An ugly brawl on the final whistle again had the referee brandishing cards of both colours as he finally lost patience, but this did not stop the Widnes side from bagging 2 premiership competition points.
M Forrest, J Lawton, J Edmondson, D Ginocchio, M Short, S Lacey, B ,ivingstone, L Hall, D Helme, J Short, Jake Harrison, D Rodriguez, C Lacey. RES. A Collins, Joe Harrison, C Strachan, G Winder.
Next Saturday The “ A” team return to action at The Trimpell ground when they play Southport kick off 230 all welcome.
Portrait Pools Man Of The Match
1 Michael Forrest 2 Liam Hall 3 Jason Short