ERIC Perez had labelled it a “massive turning point” for the Bulls.

Three games into the Championship season hardly constitutes must-win territory.

But the interim chairman’s pre-match hyperbole was understandable given the manner of the “close but no cigar” displays against London and Featherstone.

It was about turning performance into points – especially against a newly-promoted Oldham side tipped to be scrapping for survival.

He need not have fretted as the Bulls got their campaign up and rolling in fairly solid fashion.

This was just the response that John Kear had wanted after the under-par show against Underbank. The focus and attitude was spot on from the start when three quickfire tries set the tone.

Oldham made a determined fightback with the Bower Fold slope but the Bulls were never in serious danger of letting that early advantage slip despite not seeing all that much of the ball in the second half.

Matt Diskin’s Roughyeds had already got off the mark with a gutsy result at Whitehaven a fortnight earlier. They were never going to be pushovers although the Bower Fold pitch looked drier – and was certainly wider – than Dewsbury and provided a welcome relief.

Kear was grateful to see a surface more conducive for playing more expansive rugby and the sunshine that greeted the first half was a welcome sight for all.

Having kept faith with the same side in the opening weeks, Kear swung the axe after the lacklustre effort in the Challenge Cup.

Rhys Evans was back in a Bulls shirt as he began his loan return from Leeds. He last played in the opening friendly at Castleford on Boxing Day.

Kear also took up the club’s dual-reg option with Hull FC for the first time by including Joe Cator and Jack Brown. Anthony England returned after being rested last week and Dan Waite-Pullan made his first start.

Cator was straight into the action as the Bulls forced an early score after an early Oldham knock-on inside their own 20. Sam Hallas spotted a gap to barge in from dummy half and give them the ideal start.

And the game wasn’t even 10 minutes old when the visitors went back to back with a second try.

Brandon Pickersgill’s weaving run needed stopping by three red-and-a-white shirts in front of the posts. But Steve Crossley crashed his way over to continue their stranglehold.

Oldham coughed up another penalty – and the Bulls instantly struck again to cross for the third time in the opening 11 minutes. Pickersgill again caused havoc and twisted to get the ball down as he went over with two men in tow.

The shell-shocked Roughyeds tried to mount a response when the Bulls were called for offside in front of their own posts. But strong goalline defence denied James Beckett before a big hit from Ross Oakes forced a knock-on.

Former Bull Lewis Charnock gave Oldham a bit of a foothold with his kicking game, forcing the first goalline drop-out. But again they were kept out by some firm resistance.

Things soon got even better for the Bulls with a first try for debutant Cator. Hallas was the provider with a fast pass on the final tackle as the loose forward went over to the left of the posts through some sloppy home defence.

Crossley and England took a well-earned breather but replacements Levy Nzoungou and Ebon Scurr carried on where they left off as the Bulls hunted for more.

Joe Brown thought he was in next but Lilley’s pass out wide fell short and ran away from the winger as the line beckoned.

But the Bulls suffered a blow just before half-time. Waite-Pullan pulled up as he fielded a bouncing kick and crumpled to the floor.

Danny Bridge appeared to go in late on him after he dropped the ball but play was stopped for several minutes before the former Leeds youngster, who has only just come back from injury, was stretchered off.

No action was taken against the Oldham second row as the Roughyeds pushed for a first score. But Hallas was having none of it just before the hooter as he combined with Nzoungou to pop the ball loose from the charging Jack Spencer.

Matty Dawson-Jones, no doubt grateful for a firmer surface on the wing, cantered in from Pickersgill’s lofted pass to start the second half but the ref ruled it had gone forward.

Titus Gwaze was wrapped up just short at the other end before Charnock’s grubber kick ran out the back as the Bulls survived three repeat sets to continue to shut Oldham down.

A flurry of penalties disrupted the flow and the Bulls could not take advantage when they forced one 10 metres out as Milnes’ kick through came to nothing.

George Flanagan’s arrival in the 55th minute for Hallas sparked a buzz among the Bulls fans. But the home faithful finally had something to cheer as Matty Wilkinson set up Bridge from dummy half for their first try.

Jordan Lilley responded with a short kick-off that caught Oldham cold. Pickersgill leapt highest to claim and the Bulls were awarded another penalty, Milnes opting to take the two to restore the four-score advantage.

But Oldham’s spirited second half showed no sign of easing up. The Bulls were forced to do far more defending than they would have liked.

Phil Joy spilled the ball as he was tackled plunging for the line but Bridge had his second try with 10 minutes left as he ran in on a low kick from scrum half David Hewitt.

Pickersgill held on to a high bomb under pressure – only to let the next slip through his grasp. But Danny Langtree’s drop near the Bulls line killed Oldham’s last opportunity.

There was no danger of a repeat of the Bulls’ last visit to Stalybridge in the ill-fated 2017 season when they were shot down by a late long-range finish from winger Kieran Gill.

Langtree’s game finished three minutes early, alongside the impressive Cator, as both were sin-binned for a late bout of push and shove.