OLDHAM completed their three-match pre-season programme with a crowd-pleasing performance against a young but extremely talented St Helens side.

Coming six days after the disappointing Law Cup defeat at Rochdale – and only a fortnight before the big Championship kick-off against Widnes Vikings at Bower Fold, Stalybridge – it was a timely return to form and one which will put fans in a positive mood ahead of the Championship campaign.

New coach Matt Diskin said he was passionate about and is a great believer in expansive, entertaining, wing-to-wing rugby when he was unveiled as the Roughyeds’ team boss last October.

Getting his new charges to feel comfortable with new structures, new systems and a new style of rugby was the principle objective in the warm-up games against Barrow Raiders, Rochdale Hornets and St Helens Select.

The Rochdale game was a serious hiccup, but at the Vestacare Stadium last Saturday night Oldham looked nearer to getting it right than at any previous time in pre-season.

The big test will be against Widnes on February 2, but there were definite signs here that the gospel according to Matthew is starting to get through.

Saints were led by their new reserve-team player-coach Paul Crook, who needed no introduction to Oldham fans, and it was Crook who opened the scoring after eight minutes with a try that Lewis Dodd goaled.

Oldham moved the ball wide at every available opportunity and got their reward with two cracking tries in the build-up to half-time.

Declan Kay got over in the right-hand corner after a long, looping, cut-out pass by Lewis Charnock and the cheers had barely settled before centre James Worthington crossed on the back of more fast-flowing football.

Oldham led 10-6 at half-time but Saints regained the lead early in the second half when centre Matthew Costello went over in the corner to score a try that Dodd again improved with a great goal off the touchline.

Oldham lost Worthington to the sin bin for dissent, but it didn’t stop them getting more and more on top the longer the game went on.

With former Saints half-backs Charnock and Dave Hewitt taking control of the game, Roughyeds blew Saints apart with four tries in the last 10 minutes.

Man-of-the-match second-rower Danny Bridge capped a great individual performance with two of those tries before Kyran Johnson and Harry Aaronson also crossed the Saints line in an exciting finale that set the scene for the club’s return to the sport’s second tier on the first Sunday in February.

Team: Abram; Kay, Worthington, Smith, Johnson; Charnock, Hewitt; Joy, Owen, Igbinedion, Langtree, Bridge, Bent. Subs (all used): Aaronson, Brook, Wilkinson, Fletcher.

Scorers: tries – Kay (32), Worthington (38), Bridge (71, 76), Johnson (78), Aaronson (80).

Goals – Abram 1/2, Hewitt 3/4.