Heysham Atoms failed in their attempt to get to the Premier League play-off final after putting up a gallant effort against the strongly-fancied Thatto Heath Crusaders from St Helens.
With three minutes on the clock the Atoms got their noses in front after Kyel Dempsey had picked up a loose ball and sprinted 60 metres down the field.
The ball was moved smartly to the left where Jack Lawton forced his way over close to the left hand touchline. Billy Livingstone added the two extra points from a difficult angle.
The lead didn’t last long however as Thatto hit back after five minutes. A high kick to the Atoms’ right wing was caught and pushed back inside for a try and a 6-6 scoreline.
Livingstone then made a vital one-on-one ball steal before Mark Walker was cynically taken out of the game with a dangerous tackle that resulted in the prop forward dislocating his elbow, which saw the offender receive a yellow card.
The Atoms regrouped and a Jake Harrison break and off load from the back of a scrum restored the Atoms’ lead as he found Lawton on his shoulder and the scrum half went in for his second try of the match.
Ollie Murray came up with a desperate last-ditch tackle on his own line to stop a certain try but this only delayed the inevitable as Thatto Heath scored their second try out wide.
The kick missed and the Atoms held on to a slender 12–10 lead.
With time running out in the half Thatto forced a goal line drop out and the pressure told with a neat kick and chase, recovery and a neat pass back inside to a supporting runner.
The kick was taken and missed and the St Helens side had a 14-12 half-time lead.
In the first five minutes after the restart Stuart Lacey banged over a penalty however bringing the teams level.
However, the Atoms conceded a soft try as their middle defence was opened up far too easily for comfort.
At 20–14 down it was now the Atoms’ turn to get their attack in motion. Jack Edmondson and Jamie Cottle ran strongly and Michael Forrest forced a goal line drop out, chasing up a well-placed kick.
The ball was transferred across the line and Andrew Collins found a gap and sped around the cover, scoring close to the posts.
Livingstone again converted to get the Atoms back to 20-20 with a quarter of the game remaining.
The Atoms then conceded a penalty that was easily kicked by the St Helens side, nudging them two points ahead again.
The crucial try came with 15 minutes remaining as the Thatto side went over to the right of the posts, giving them a healthy eight-point cushion.
The Atoms were reduced to 12 men and then their coach had to watch the remainder of the game from the car park as frustrations boiled over.
The Atoms failed to make up the deficit and ended the game with 11 players as another yellow card was brandished to a Heysham player.
A difficult finale could take nothing away from a magnificent Atoms season and a first foray into the play-offs.