St Helens Wild Boars 22-22 Heysham Atoms

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ALTHOUGH the Atoms have had to endure a stop-start opening to their first ever Summer League campaign, they were able to come away with a creditable draw at the Wild Boars of St Helens.

Once the Atoms got a grip of the referee’s interpretation of the speed of the play of the ball there only looked one side that could push on and win the game as the Atoms totally dominated the second period.

Full-back Jake Harrison got the Atoms off to the perfect start, scorching down the touch line for a 40-yard opener on the very first set of six.

Harrison benefited from a lateral run and sharp pass from influential stand-off Stuart Lacey as he beat the cover with exceptional pace.

The following 20 minutes was very scrappy for the Atoms as they showed a ring rustiness that has been the legacy of not having enough games on the bounce.

A steady drizzle made for greasy ball and the Atoms suffered from too many knock-ons coupled with a raft of penalties to compound the problems.

These errors gave the Wild Boars easy access into Atoms’ territory of which they took full advantage.

Two back-to-back tries were conceded by the Atoms with their defensive line in some disarray.

The St Helens side were good value for their lead at 12-4 and looked likely to add to their total.

A further score came on the back of a glaring Atoms error on their own line as a kick wasn’t dealt with and was gratefully scooped up by the St Helens chaser.

The change in Atoms’ fortunes came from the inter-change bench as Ben Dorrington and debutant Jason Short were both introduced to the action.

The pack in particular got a lift as they began to go forward with a lot more purpose.

Billy Livingstone had kept his place in the hooking role and he began to exploit the tiring defenders around the rucks.

One such gap opened up for him and he darted over from 10-yards out for a try which he converted, taking the Atoms in at the break trailing 18-10.

A disappointing start to the second period gave the Wild Boars a soft try directly from a scrum 15-yards out, as the Atoms had knocked on directly from the kick-off.

From this point onwards it was all one-way traffic as the Atoms began their dominance.

Increased numbers into the tackle prevented any quick play the balls for the Wild Boars and the Atoms forwards, led by Dorrington and Callum Hall, were starting to make a big impression with determined runs.

The pressure was beginning to tell and Dave McVernon bundled his way over with four defenders in attendance.

The tide had now turned in the Atoms’ favour as they pounded at the St Helens’ line.

Indiscipline was costing the Wild Boars as the screw was turned and they were made to defend their own line.

Captain Craig Dixon, now operating in the front row, found a gap and forced his way over after a strong run had taken him through two tacklers and bringing the sides level with 12 minutes to play.

The Atoms were in total ascendancy now looking for the killer blow.

Centre for the day Dan Helme was held up millimetres short from the line wide out on the right corner flag.

Livingstone just failed with a tricky penalty shot and Stuart Lacey saw a snap drop goal attempt just drift wide, as the Atoms tried to kill the game off.

The Wild Boars had virtually been camped in their own half for the whole of the second period but they had one final chance at winning the game but this was snuffed out by some brave defensive work by Martin Pike.

The unbeaten start to the Summer League continues to remain intact but the Atoms have three very testing fixtures looming on the horizon.

Portraitpools.com Man of the Match: 1 B Dorrington, 2 B Livingstone, 3 S Lacey.

Heysham Atoms: J Harrison, S Jackson, L Seabrook, D Helme, G Winder, S Lacey, M Marrin, M Pike, B Livingstone, C Dixon, C Hall, A Crookall, M Walker. Res: D McVernon, J Short, B Dorrington, S Weed.