IT was lift-off for Oldham at the Vestacare Stadium on Sunday when Scott Naylor’s men beat Whitehaven 36-12 to get their season up and running.

It was a perfect response to their opening-day defeat by Workington and saw Oldham soar five places up Betfred League 1 to third.

It was not entirely convincing and the score perhaps flattered the home side a little, but Roughyeds never seriously looked like losing and centre Zack McComb celebrated a bubbly day with three tries and a champagne-moment award.

Livewire full-back Ritchie Hawkyard, a real jack-in-a-box when returning kicks or scooting from dummy half, scored twice and carried off the man-of-the-match award.

But it was hat-trick hero McComb that Whitehaven had no answer to, his treble coming in little more than a magical quarter of an hour in the first half when Scott Naylor’s men were playing champagne rugby.

Their left-to-right shifts, usually featuring Gareth Owen from dummy half, then Adam Brook and Anthony Bowman, caused havoc on Haven’s out-gunned left flank and gave in-form McComb the opportunity to score in the 10th, 15th and 27th minutes.

After more good work by Brook and Bowman, Hawkyard crossed for the first of his two tries and Dave Hewitt’s third conversion from four attempts gave Oldham a 22-0 lead.

They looked capable of kicking on and making it a victory stroll, but they then conceded a soft try by Callum Phillips just before the break and another by Andrew Bulman within three minutes of the restart.

At 22-12, the Cumbrians sensed they were back in the game, and especially so when Bowman was sin-binned for a shoulder charge and Roughyeds went down to 12 men.

The visitors sent on giant sub Ethan Kelly, a huge prop who, for a short time, terrorised Oldham’s forwards and twice crossed the line, only to have tries disallowed for a double movement and then a forward pass.

A try for Haven at that stage would have had Oldham wobbling more than a little, but it did not happen and the home side regained the ascendancy to wrap it all up with late tries by Hewitt and Hawkyard.

Hewitt converted both and also landed a penalty to finish with six goals from seven attempts.