Featherstone Rovers, joint favourites with Toulouse Olympique to win the 2021 Betfred Championship, piled on the points against injury-hit Oldham to win 68-0 at the Millenium Stadium.
Dane Chisholm, playing full-back with Craig Hall on the wing, went the length of the field to open the scoring the first time Rovers touched the ball, and the home side went on to run in 12 tries.
Ten of them were converted by man-of-the-match Chisholm as Rovers made it look easy by piling on the points .
Oldham brought back Dave Hewitt and Ryan Ince after injury, but Liam Kirk was still not ready because of his concussion; Danny Bridge wasn’t fit to play; Lewis Charnock wasn’t included; and Ben Heaton pulled out just before the kick-off.
He was named on the official team sheet with Joe Hartley on the bench, but by the time pre-match formalities were completed and the teams lined up for the kick-off, Heaton was in the dug-put wearing a heavy coat for warmth; Hartley was at right-centre; and Tommy Brierley had replaced Hartley among the subs.
Roughyeds suffered another blow at the end of their first set when Dan Abram kicked deep into the home side’s 20-metre zone and Chisholm attacked the ball at speed to brush off two weak challenges and finish off under the posts at the other end of the field.
Nothing was going right for Oldham, who then had centre Max Roberts sin-binned by Aussie referee James Vella.
While he was off the field, Rovers scored 12 more points –and with an 18-0 lead inside the first 20 minutes they were sitting pretty and clearly capable of going for the jugular.
They led 40-0 by half-time and finished with 12 tries in total, scored by Chisholm, Hall (2), Jack Bussey (2), Brad Day, Thomas Minns, Josh Hardcastle, Tom Holmes, Fa’Amanu Brown, Connor Jones and Gareth Gale. Despite two missed conversions, Chisholm kicked beautifully to land ten, to score the super solo that started it all and to set up more tries with his speed off the mark and his ability to look for support and then find it.
He was at the back of a side that looks like championship and promotion material. They won the forward battle, made all their tackles count — and hurt — and they also had a distinct advantage in size, strength and speed.
ROVERS: Chisholm; Gale, Hardcastle, Minns, Hall; Holmes, Brown; Kopczak, Parata, Lockwood, Day, Moors, Bussey. Subs: Jones, Davies, Cooper, Field.
OLDHAM: Green; Hutchings, Hartley, Roberts, Ince; Abram, Hewitt; Reilly, Owen, Nelmes, Bent, Langtree, Spencer.. Subs: Gregory, Pick, Fletcher, Brierley.
Ref: James Vella.