The Heysham Atoms strolled into the North West Men’s Premier League’s end of season play-offs with an outstanding 36-24 victory at the home of the leaders, Haydock Warriors.
A large Atoms travelling support were treated to the best display of the season with captain and full back Jamie Cottle leading by example with a true man of the match performance.
The Atoms had a good opening to the game with Liam Hall and Josh O’Donnell setting up an excellent platform but it was Haydock who opened the scoring when a quick-fire break from their impressive full back saw him go over the line close to the posts.
Although the Atoms wasted a couple of attacking kicks, Jack Lawton’s footwork got him on the score sheet for the first time, Billy Livingstone converting from the right touchline.
On the 20-minute mark Andrew Collins came on and made an immediate impact, smashing Haydock’s left winger into touch in what looked like a dangerous attack.
The next 10 minutes were all about Haydock and with the speed of the play the Atoms failed to get numbers in the tackle and the St Helens side took full advantage. Two lightning quick tries, again with their full back heavily involved, took Haydock into an 18-6 lead.
The last attack of the half was a crucial one as Lawton scored his sixth try in three games as he stood his man up with exceptional footwork and sprinted away 25 metres to score, Livingstone again converting.
Five minutes into the second half the Atoms drew level – Jake Harrison broke and off loaded to Cottle, who finished off the move and the Atoms’ belief began to grow.
However, Haydock’s full back again opened up the Atoms, off-loading in the tackle close to the line where the winger went in by the left corner flag.
Jack Edmondson got the Atoms back on level terms at 24-24 with 55 minutes on the clock – he broke from the 40-metre line and had enough pace and determination to finish off the move.
Kyle Dempsey then set up a great field position with a strong carry out of defence. Harrison again used his footwork to break the line and he scored, giving the Atoms the lead for the first time in the match.
A subtle change around in personnel seemed to do the trick as the Atoms entered the final 10 minutes. Livingstone returned to hooker and immediately shot over the line from dummy half, giving the Atoms a crucial 12-point lead.
The Atoms’ line came under siege and a Lawton bat down in the right hand corner saved a certain try but they had to endure a goal line drop-out from under their own sticks.
Great team defence saw off the danger and the Atoms moved smartly up field where Dan Helme tried to finish them off with a couple of drop goal attempts.
The Atoms held their nerve until the end, doing an incredible double-double over Haydock in the last two seasons.