North West Premier League
The Atoms had a tough away trip to Widnes to face the Premiership Champions of last season who have only lost 1 game so far this term. In the end the Atoms were taught some harsh lessons in how to dictate the pace of the game and how to bully your opposition into submission. The Atoms have already played the top 3 teams in the league now away from home and been well beaten in all 3. It is hoped that this tough love will make them better equipped to deal with the challenges that face them as the season rolls on.
The opening half was a physical but yet low key affair where the Atoms were quite literally beaten to the punch as they struggled to come to terms with lack of space and room. They made very little forward gains apart from the odd blast from Jason Short and Mark Walker. The Atoms couldn't dictate the speed of the play the ball which made it difficult to get their speedy outside backs moving.
The first score had air of inevitability about it as the hosts burst through a couple of half hearted tackles which allowed the home hooker to stroll over the line. The Atoms became a bit frustrated at the lack of progress as they were smothered with aggressive defence around the play the ball.
The second Widnes try came on the back of 2 offloads right down the middle of the park as the Atoms defenders failed to lock the ball in the tackle.
At 12 nil down the Atoms finally got to the right end of the field with Callum Hall and Andrew Collins lifting the tempo. Jamie Cottle showed a piece of individual brilliance as he placed the perfect kick behind the Widnes posts and backed himself with his acceleration to win the race for the touchdown.
This was the last play of the half and although the Atoms were quite fortunate to still be in touching distance they had something to play for in the second half.
The positive feel at the half time break was almost immediately knocked out of them as the Widnes side came out with a real determination and scored 2 tries in the opening 5 mins of the half to give them a commanding 24 – 6 lead.
The Atoms tried to play with their usual width and pace but it just wasn't happening for them. Although limited for space both Jack Lawton and Michael Forrest took on their opposite number but both ended up scragged to touch with some illegal dragging that ended up going unpunished.
The discipline of both sides came into question and at one point they were both operating with only 11 players either side. This meant there were gaps all over the place and it was West Bank who took full advantage of this. They scored 3 more tries to take them over the forty point mark.
The second half territory was all in the Widnes sides favour until Jake Harrison finally broke the shackles and broke down the middle of the park to take the Atoms within 20m of the West Bank line. Stand Off Jamie Cottle attack across the face of the West Bank defensive line picking up Callum Hall on an excellent line to break through and score his second try of the season. Michael Forrest added the goal for the second time in the game.
Winger Jack Lawton nearly got away chasing hard on to a well placed Dan Helme kick but was denied close to the corner flag.
The last 2 tries of the game showed how tired and somewhat frail the Atoms defensive line had become with some unacceptable defending at this level.
It doesn't get any easier for the Atoms as they return to Widnes next Saturday to take on the town's other crack outfit – St Maries Vikings – in the quarter final of the cup.
Portrait Pools Man Of The Match 1 Jamie Cottle 2 Andrew Collins 3 Michael Forrest
Team: 1 Michael Forrest
2 Jake Harrison
3 Matty short
4 Dan Ginocchio
5 jack Lawton
6 Jamie Cottle
7 Billy Livingstone
8 Liam hall
9 Dan Helme
10 Jason short
11 Andrew Collins
12 Al Crookall
13 mark walker
14 Curtis Lacey
15 Callum hall
16 Mike Oldcorn
17 Dan Rodriguez