Halton Farnworth Hornets 22-20 Heysham Atoms

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THE Atoms’ run of nine consecutive wins finally came to an end against a young, lively Widnes outfit that just didn’t know when they were beaten.

It was the final quarter of the game when things began to unravel for the Atoms and at this stage they were well placed, winning the contest by 20 points to 10.

The intensity dropped and a couple of wrong options played into Farnworth’s hands of which they ultimately took full advantage.

The Atoms were forced to make six changes from the side that had beaten Higginshaw the previous week, looking a bit lightweight in the forwards, especially missing the fire power of front-rowers Dave McVernon and Liam Hall.

The Atoms started in controlled fashion and a high completion rate led to an excellent kicking game from Atoms’ man of the match Stuart Lacey.

The territory gained from these accurate punts gave the Atoms the first opportunity to pressurise Farnworth’s line. Mark Walker bundled his way over close to the posts getting on the end of a face pass from hooker Helme. Billy Livingstone converted for an excellent start.

Full-back Jake Harrison was brought into the action early, making a vital one-on-one tackle as Farnworth threatened the Atoms’ line.

This pressure was maintained and some less than impressive defending cost the Atoms dear as Farnworth’s centre strolled through a big gap on the 20 minute mark.

The low sun was causing a few problems with handling of the high ball leading to a number of unforced errors on both sides.

The Atoms were awarded a scrum on the back of a Farnworth knock-on and play was taken down the right.

Mark Walker floated into acting half back and forced his way over from close range with four defenders in attendance.

Billy Livingstone gave the Atoms a 12-6 half-time lead with another successful kick from wide out on the right.

Dan Ginocchio, who was filling in at prop, was making some much needed yardage with ball in hand and centre Al Crookall looked dangerous in the right centre channel.

The impressive set completion rate continued and the Atoms got into a good attacking position after a good solid drive from captain and left centre Craig Dixon.

The ball was swung back through three pairs of hands to Ginocchio who cut inside two defenders to score the third Atoms’ converted try.

A little bit of complacency crept into the Atoms’ play and a knock-on on the first tackle under their own posts invited pressure on their line.

Callum Hall saved the Atoms as he knocked the ball out for a goal line drop out from a dangerous kick.

The pressure was maintained and Farnworth’s strong running second row forced his way over with 20 minutes remaining.

Billy Livingstone knocked over a penalty to give the Atoms a 10 point lead and the visitors visibly took their foot off the gas in the final 10 minutes.

The occasion seemed to get to both sides and a brawl saw the referee brandish both colour of cards in what had been a hard, fair contest up until then.

This seemed to disrupt the Atoms more than Farnworth and it was the Atoms’ line that came under siege.

Committed defending from Callum Hall and Dan Helme seemed to stem the tide but Farnworth found a gap close to the posts, scoring a six pointer with four minutes remaining.

Farnworth were now sensing victory, spreading play at every opportunity and only a Neil Walker interception seemed to relieve the pressure.

The Atoms kept play in the right hand corner but a misplaced kick gave Farnworth possession with only minutes remaining.

Three quick passes to the left wing and a missed tackle allowed Farnworth to score the decisive try.

The Atoms had 30 seconds from the restart but couldn’t get their hands on the ball and Farnworth held on for their victory.

Portrait Pools Man of the Match: 1 Stuart Lacey, 2 Dan Ginocchio, 3 Mark Walker.

Heysham Atoms: Harrison, Winder, Crookall, Dixon, Livingstone, Lacey, Walker, Helme, Ginocchio, Jackson, Hall, Walker. Res: Helme, Ward, Holmes, Livingstone.