St Helens 66 Oldham Bears 18
As the season started, Oldham did everyone a favour by beating Wigan. At St Helens yesterday, depleted by injury, suspensions and the beckonings of the matrimonial altar, they would have been hard put to do much damage to Snow White and a full complement, and allowed St Helens to celebrate their Challenge Cup victory in front of a good home crowd with a basketful of points.
St Helens scored almost at will, matching points for minutes up to the half-hour, with their powerful Australian forward Derek McVey prominent in the early stages, but called on less and less as Oldham cracked under the pressure.
Paul Newlove, in particular, revelled in the freedom offered by a thin Oldham defence on the right. He scored two first-half tries, one from the half-way line, and just failed to see Anthony Sullivan in time to put the winger away.
Sullivan's reward came with the last try of the half after he had broken a half-hearted tackle some 50 metres out, but the best cheer had come for Bobbie Goulding's first Super League try, profiting from a late side- step by fellow half-back Karle Hammond who himself had scored the opening try. The only forwards to claim any points had been Apollo Perelini for Saints, and Oldham's Western Samoan prop Esene Faimalo.
With the score 36-6 at the break, it is to the credit of both sides that the game stayed competitive. The difference in quality between the teams remain the same but the scoring ratio moved slightly in Oldham's favour.
Newlove completed his hat-trick, drawing out Goulding's longest conversion of the afternoon, and Sullivan, after a long run down the opposite wing by Alan Hunte, scored his second. McVey, who had been toiling largely unsung since his earlier strong display, scored under the posts to seal his man of the match award, with Goulding, as he had been for most of the attack, instrumental in the move.
Hammond became the third Saint to score a second try moments before the end, and Goulding rounded off a kicking display that had started shakily with his eighth successful kick from 11. Meanwhile, Oldham, hardly bearish in their approach, scored second-half tries through Darren Abram and Paul Davidson with conversions from Paul Topping.
St Helens: Prescott; Arnold, Hunte, Newlove, Sullivan; Hammond, Goulding; Perelini, K Cunningham, Leatham, McVey, Booth, Joynt. Substitutes: Morley, Martyn, Pickavance, Matautia.
Oldham: Aitcheson; Belle, Topping, Abram, Smith; Maloney, Burns; Gildart, Clarke, Faimalo, Munro, Lord, Hill. Substitutes: Crook, Patmore, Sherratt, Neil.
Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).