IRLAM came to the Trimpell ground with the league table showing that they had the best attack in the league and the tightest defensive record.
The Atoms produced a fully-committed effort that can only be described as their most competitive 80 minutes of the season.
Such was the tightness of the game it took until the 30th minute for the scoreboard to start rolling.
The Atoms were awarded two penalties in succession and the second one was kicked by hooker for the day Billy Livingstone.
There was nothing to chose between the sides and a cramped ten metres made for very little room to work with, so it was all about committed running and defending.
Irlam got their noses in front with the last play of the half, scoring by the corner flag wide out on the Atoms’ left.
In the second half, hooker Billy Livingstone began to have more of an influence on the game and a break from him down the middle of the ruck found second row Rob Shaw on his shoulder.
Shaw took play close to the line, then skilfully off-loaded to winger Anthony Livingstone who finished off in style.
This was just the injection of confidence that the Atoms needed and this gave them a massive lift for the remainder of this strength sapping game. Livingstone added a penalty shortly after to put The Atoms 8-4 up.
Irlam’s powerful running centre swatted a couple of defenders away before off-loading to his winger.
The winger couldn’t hold onto the pass with the line at his mercy, missing out on a vital score which proved to be a pivotal moment in the game.
The momentum swung back to the Atoms with captain Craig Dixon making a great break down the left centre, putting his winger away with a neat pass to Anthony Livingstone, who beat his opposite number to score an outstanding individual try in the corner.
Brother Billy Livingstone added the extras from the touchline to take The Atoms into a 14-4 lead.
Player-coach Shane Weed came on for a cameo role and played his part, saving a certain try by preventing Irlam’s dangerous hooker from grounding the ball when he was over The Atoms try line.
Although the Livingstone brothers had the monopoly on all the Atoms’ points the whole 17 team members can be extremely proud of their efforts.
Portrait Pools Man of The Match: 1 Stuart Lacey 2 Al Crookall 3 Mark Walker
Atoms: Harrison, Winder, Crookall, Ginocchio, Jackson, Lacey, Walker, Hall, Livingstone, Dixon, Hall, Shaw, Walker. Replacements: Helme, Weed, Livingstone, Hartlebury.