Bulls find comfort in cup success
Luke Gale scored a hat-trick as Bradford temporarily put aside their Super League troubles to ease into the fifth round of the Tetley's Challenge Cup with a 60-6 success over Oldham.
Gale scored an impressive 28 points in total as new owner Marc Green was able to celebrate victory in his first home game at the helm as the Bulls saw off their Kingstone Press Championship 1 opponents.
The relegation-threatened Bulls, bottom of the table due to having already suffered a six-point deduction for going into administration earlier this year, scored 11 tries, while Gale added eight conversions to secure their expected comfortable progression.
The Roughyeds, two divisions below their hosts although unbeaten at their own level this season, put in a sterling first-half display to trail by just 24-6 at the break.
But the visitors had little answer to the pace, power and superior fitness of their full-time professional hosts - five times Challenge Cup winners in the past - during the second period.
Ironically the last time these trans-Pennine rivals met in the Challenge Cup in 1997 it was the then Oldham Bears who were in financial meltdown and about to fold at the end of the season, being reborn as the Roughyeds the following season.
Under Green the Bulls will hope their money worries are behind them and Francis Cummins'side, who had lost their previous four Super League games, were able to play as if a huge weight had been removed from their shoulders.
Finding more space in which to manoeuvre against the plucky part-timers, Bradford savoured tries from Gale (three), Elliot Kear (two), Brett Kearney, Adam O'Brien, Danny Addy, Adam Henry - back after two games out injured - Jamie Foster and debutant Dale Ferguson .
With France international Jamal Fakir making his debut after signing from Catalans during the week and winter capture Ferguson also making his competitive bow, having recovered from a back injury picked up pre-season, a bolstered Bulls' pack proved hard to handle.
Oldham coach Scott Naylor, twice a winner of the Challenge Cup as a Bradford player in 2000 and 2003, said beforehand that all he could ask from his players - all but a handful of whom had been released from Super league clubs at some point in the past - was for them to "play to the best of their ability "and "show the people who once let them go what they are made of".
He had no reason to be disappointed and his side, hitherto unbeaten this season in three Championship 1 games and a cup tie, were rewarded with a hard-earned opportunist try from hooker Kenny Hughes.
The Bulls eased into an 18-point lead in even time through two tries from Gale and one from Kearney, all converted by Gale.
Hughes' try, skipping over from dummy half at close range, was no more than Oldham deserved and errors from the hosts almost gifted the Lancastrians further points before Kear steadied any home nerves by touching down just before the interval after a thrilling 50-metre break from Ferguson.
The second half proved largely one-way traffic with O'Brien extending Bradford's lead within four minutes of the restart and the Super League side then adding six more scores, including Gale's hat-trick five minutes from time.