BLACKBURN Rovers got off to an absolute flier at Deepdale in the last of their pre-season friendlies.

And they gave a repeat performance after the break to catch North End napping a second time.

The game was barely a minute old when Jason Roberts won a free kick on the left.

Up stepped Rovers' dead-ball specialist David Bentley to curl an inswinger goalwards and defender Andre Ooijer got the deftest of touches to head it into the corner.

Preston almost equalised on 25 minutes when new signing Kevin Nichols pounced on a slack clearance from Stephen Warnock and his curled effort clipped the top of the bar.

It was a rare opportunity for Paul Simpson's side and order was restored seconds later when Bentley was released by Roberts but, from a narrow angle, his shot was smothered by Wayne Henderson.

And on the stroke of half-time everyone held their breath as McCarthy collected a Morten Gamst Pedersen cut-back on the egde of the six-yard-box, but Preston's Callum Davidson threw himself in the way to deny the South African an almost certain goal.

But the inevitable was only delayed by the customary 15 minute break.

This time it was Pedersen who was the provider in an almost carbon copy of the first goal.

And, with Ooijer substituted, it was left to Chris Samba to rise unchallenged and head past Henderson.

The duo combined just minutes later to make it three. And it was the big man Samba again, picked out at the front post from a Pedersen corner, and heading high into the net.

On 64 minutes the visitors got what they came for, a sight of new signing Roque Santa Cruz, when he was introduced in place of Benni McCarthy.

He looked sharp, coming deep to collect and showing neat touches on the ball.

But he couldn't add to the tally, and neither could Rovers, despite a late effort from substitute Paul Gallagher, who shot wide of the near post after good work from Ryan Nelsen.