AN Oldham side weakened by injury and suspension was blown apart in their fourth-round Coral Challenge Cup tie at Bower Fold.

Widnes Vikings, who have won six of their seven Championship matches so far this season, turned on the style and the razzle-dazzle in the first half to leave the overworked home defenders out on their feet.

Roughyeds’ forwards worked manfully to hold back a Vikings pack that included the visitors’ high-profile imports Harrison Hansen, Joseph Cahill and MacGriff Leuluai, but the backs could not shackle their highly talented young opposites such as full-back Lloyd Roby, wingers Ryan Ince and Owen Buckley, centre Keenan Brand and stand-off Jack Owens.

Between them, the Vikings’ slick operators scored nine of their side’s 10 tries, seven of them coming in the first half.

Owens and Buckley each recorded a hat-trick as Roughyeds went 48-0 down before at least rolling up their sleeves and giving as good as they got for the last 25 minutes or so.

Club skipper Gareth Owen, later to be named Oldham’s man of the match, was instrumental in lifting the spirits of the side when he came off the bench for his second spell early in the second half.

Having started the game at his normal position of hooker, he resumed off the bench at right-side half-back and that is when things began to liven up from an Oldham perspective.

He got the right flank buzzing to bring out the best in centre Zack McComb, winger Kyran Johnson and full-back Ritchie Hawkyard.

McComb, Owen himself and Hawkyard all scored Owen-inspired tries in a 10-minute purple patch to at least restore some pride and self-belief, but in the main it was a game Oldham will want to confine to the record books and get on with the job of excelling in Betfred League 1.

They had hard-working – and at times valiant – up-the-middle forwards in Phil Joy, Scott Law, Liam Bent, Titus Gwaze – who was playing with his thigh heavily strapped – Ben Davies and especially Jack Spencer, but the backs could not hold the eager young Vikings out in the backs and that is where the big difference lay.

In heated exchanges near the end three players were sin-binned – Law and Leuluai for scrapping and, in a separate incident, Joy for a late tackle.