Heysham Atoms 4-34 Thatto Heath Crusaders 34
Heysham Atoms travelled to the league leaders Thatto Heath on Saturday and although they put up a courageous fight the overwhelming possession against them told in the final quarter as the St Helens side pulled away to win.
In the opening exchanges it would have been difficult to predict who was the team running high in the league and who it was in a dogfight to stay in the division as both sides went set for set.
The Atoms, if anything, had the better of the play, and were inspired once more by hard working prop Leandro Kwiczor who picked up where he left off last week against Orrell.
A quick-fire Atoms attack showed they had started in a positive manner and Jake Harrison propelled himself over the line to the left of the posts.
Although he and the Atoms players were convinced he had scored the decision was ‘held up’, but it showed a good attacking intent by the visitors.
The Atoms were quickly back defending their own line and they had to suffer three back to back sets.
They defended 18 continuous tackles well but this kind of sustained effort takes its toll at the back end of the game and this proved to be the case.
The Atoms broke the shackles with a couple of organised escape sets and some excellent kicking to the wind assisted right hand corner but this was only a minor respite as the pressure came straight back on top.
In the 19th minute the deadlock was broken as the Atoms were guilty of giving away a needless penalty on the fifth and last tackle.
The defensive line was caught on its heels and Thatto took full advantage, forcing a score and a 6-0 lead.
The Atoms had a chance to hit back almost immediately as Jack Lawton made a clean break down the middle of the pitch on a Josh Whyke short pass. The ball was moved smartly to the left but the final pass was spilled with the line at the Atoms’ mercy.
Thatto Heath then went up field and showed the Atoms how to do it, posting another six-pointer and a 12-0 half-time lead.
The second half started with a procession of Atoms injuries with the coaches having to use all four substitutes at one point, with the worst being Lawton who broke his arm for the second time this season.
The re-shuffle had to be swift and centre Andrew Collins cut across the back of the ruck and through a hole taking him within five yards of scoring.
The St Helens side began to turn the screw and as they were winning the energy battle it was the Atoms’ left edge that came in for some treatment.
Thatto began to dominate and they turned the pressure into points, scoring three tries putting them into a 28-0 unassailable lead as the Atoms began to chase shadows.
Jamie Cottle made an outstanding covering, try-saving tackle by the right corner flag that reminded everyone there was still a lot of pride to play for.
Spirits now lifted again, Dan Helme released Jack Edmondson on a direct run but for the third time a clean break was not capitalised upon.
However, the Atoms stayed at the right end of the field and forced an error, resulting in an attacking scrum to the left of the posts 20 metres out – a well worked narrow side ploy created space for Collins to shoot over the line and score the Heysham side’s only try.
On the next attack it was full back Michael Forrest’s turn to be held up over the line as the Atoms went all out for another score.
Thatto weathered this mini-storm and moved up field to score the final points with the final play of the game as they scored an easy six points under the posts.