A PSYCHOLOGICAL blow was what Gary Thornton wanted his York City Knights side to land on Oldham.
Some of the Roughyeds players may be seeing a shrink for some time after what happened to them at Huntington Stadium.
It was the stuff of nightmares for the Lancashire Championship One promotion chasers - a 54-12 mauling that was a battering from start to finish.
There are bigger games ahead for Thornton’s men. This is just only one result on the way, hopefully, to a Grand Final victory in October.
But, if the two sides meet again in the near future, it is hard to see how Oldham’s bruised warriors won’t be trembling at the thought of coming face to face with York once more.
They were magnificent - destroying Oldham’s vaunted big pack and setting a platform for the likes of Ben Reynolds and Pat Smith to create carnage.
The former was at the heart of everything that was great about the Knights. His line-breaks caused havoc, he stepped off both feet leaving defenders flailing and he was deadly with the boot.
As Thornton was keen to point out afterwards, however, this was a team display - with every member playing their part.
It began immediately. There was an edge around the stadium and the volume only soared even louder when Oldham’s Adam Clay was the first victim of a revved up Knights side itching to make an impact.
The winger was crushed by Ed Smith and Colton Roche in a huge tackle in the opening minute, an enormous statement of intent.
The rout began just 60 seconds after Clay hauled himself slowly up off the battle-scarred Huntington Stadium pitch.
Ben Reynolds, who enjoyed a sensational first 40, slipped through the tacklers in the middle of the park, found a willing Jack Aldous in support and, as Oldham defenders scurried vainly to get back into position, the prop fed Pat Smith on his outside to run in.
The Knights were quickly on the attack one more after full-back Steven Nield spilled a high, hanging clearance from Reynolds and they had soon made him pay for the error.
After setting up the position, Jack Lee faked one way from dummy half - the entire Roughyeds defence bought it - and he crashed over to score.
Oldham were stunned and it only got worse. Firstly, after finally fashioning some pressure of their own, and thanks to some curious refereeing decisions from Tom Crashley, they failed to get in following five successive sets.
Then the Knights swept forward once more and, after Lee moved to the short side, he delivered an exquisite cut-out pass into the hands of James Saltonstall, who dived over in the right corner.
Thornton’s men were racking up an average of a point a minute and they kept that up when the fourth try came after 24.
There was a bit of fortune about it, as Ben Dent put through a kick and watched it bounce awkwardly away from Nield and into the in-goal area where he gleefully chased it down.
An almost perfect opening half hour was then completed when Reynolds dummied and stepped off his left foot and powered through the defenders to score.
Thirty minutes in, the Knights led 30-0.
There was already a sense of consolation about centre David Cookson’s try, scored down the right after he weaved past Reynolds and the Knights were by no means in the mood for charity.
Aldous, whose barnstorming runs were carving a path through the Roughyeds defence, saw off four despairing defenders as he crashed his way through and, after Reynolds struck yet another conversion, the Knights were 36-6 up at half-time.
They were roared down the tunnel and, in a bid to somehow find some momentum, Oldham were back out on the pitch long before the restart - huddled together almost in prayer as much as anything else.
Their exhortations were not answered.
Thornton’s came back out just as determined to inflict more pain.
If there was any doubt it was the Knights’ day, it came two minutes after the break when Pat Smith went for a little kick and saw the grubber bounce off an Oldham defender and right back into his hands allowing him to simply walk in.
He had his hat-trick eight minutes later and may have had more if a sudden cloudburst hadn’t made the ball slippy and the game more scrappy.
They were still keen to keep Oldham out - Reynolds making up the yards to keep out Bloomfield in the corner and Nield somehow contriving to bomb a metaphorical open goal as the ball squirted off his body after he dived to touch down his kick through.
But Joe Pickets put the 50 up for the Knights and, although Bloomfield finally got his try for Oldham on the hooter, it didn’t distract from a quite sensational York display.
They may well have to do it again if they want to join the Championship big guns next season but, on this performance, you would be a fool to bet against it.
Knights: James Haynes 9, James Saltonstall 9, James Ford 9, Brad Day 9, Ben Dent 9, Pat Smith 9, Ben Reynolds 9, Jay Leary 9, Jack Lee 9, Jack Aldous 9, Ryan Mallinder 9, Ed Smith 9, Colton Roche 9. Replacements (all used): Kris Brining 9, Lee Paterson 9, Joe Pickets 9, Ryan Backhouse 9.
Tries: P Smith 3, 42, 54; Lee 8, Saltonstall 18; Dent 24; Reynolds 29; Aldous 37; Pickets 74.
Conversions: Reynolds 3, 8, 18, 24, 29, 37, 42, 54, 74.
Sent off: None.
Oldham: Steven Nield, Adam Clay, David Cookson, Edwin Ajwang Okanga, Dale Bloomfield, Lewis Palfrey, Steve Roper, Phil Joy, Sam Gee, Jason Boults, Josh Crowley, Danny Langtree, Liam Thompson. Replacements: Danny Whitmore, Michael Ward, Ben Wood, George Tyson.
Tries: Cookson 33; Bloomfield (80).
Conversions: Palfrey 33, 80.
Sent off: none.
Man of the match: Ben Reynolds - admittedly given a platform by his forwards but was spectacular in attack in most of the Knights’ best positions.
Referee: Tom Crashley (Wakefield).
Rating: Seemed eager to be the centre of attention early on but settled down following some curious decisions.
Weather: Warm and humid but with a heavy shower during the second half.
Moment of the match: Some spectacular tries but the huge hit unleashed by Ed Smith and Colton Roche on Adam Clay so early on was an enormous statement of intent by the Knights.
Gaffe of the match: All Steven Nield had to do was touch the ball down for a consolation try but his attempted swallow dive saw the ball squirt out for a knock on.
Gamebreaker: Jack Lee made Oldham pay after Nield fumbled the ball in the in-goal area. Once the Knights had a two try lead, they never looked likely to be troubled.
Match rating: The only way it will get any better for the Knights is if they can repeat the trick in the Grand Final.