Goals from Tom Barkhuizen, Callum Robinson, Louis Moult and Alan Browne gave the Lilywhites a derby day to remember in front of almost 20,000 inside a boisterous Deepdale.
Barkhuizen smashed home Browne’s pass after only 70 seconds to get the game off to a blistering start and Robinson collected a sublime pass from Browne for the seconds after ten minutes.
Danny Graham pulled one back just minutes after half-time, having come off the bench, but Moult poked home from close range and Browne volleyed home Moult’s clever dinked cross to make it four in the closing stages.
The two enforced changes, in the absence of the injured Daniel Johnson and Sean Maguire saw Browne and Lukas Nmecha into the side, and the Irishman was a huge influence from the outset.
Only 70 seconds into the game he received the ball down the left-hand side, drove to the byline before pulling the ball back to around the penalty spot to when Barkhuizen drilled a low ball past David Raya to almost lift the roof off Deepdale.
And the high-tempo continued as the goalscorer got space to run away on the right, before pulling the ball back to the penalty spot, to the exact place he had scored from, this time Robinson’s goal-bound shot was deflected wide by visiting skipper Charlie Mulgrew for a corner.
But the North End top scorer wasn’t to be denied on ten minutes as he went into double figures for the season. Once again it was Browne with the assist, the No.8 playing a sublime ball with the outside of his right foot inside the Rovers right back to find the run of his Irish international team-mate; Robinson leaving Raya flat-footed to slide the ball into the bottom right hand corner.
The visitors grew into the game though and it took some excellent goalkeeping from Declan Rudd to keep the score 2-0. Just after the second goal the North End No.1, who retained his place after the clean sheet against Bristol City, got down low to his left to palm Bradley Dack’s downward header from Ryan Nyambe’s cross from right, around the post.
Just before the half hour, Rudd was again needed, this time to put Mulgrew’s 22-yard free kick over the bar.
And his best of three first half stops came eight minutes before the interval and it was a superb recovery save, again from Dack, after a deflected shot from the Blackburn No.23 almost caught the stopper out – a fantastic change of direction from the goalkeeper.
The visitors made a change at the break, with Graham coming on and he had an immediate impact, heading home a free kick from the right into the bottom right hand corner, giving Rudd no chance in the goal.
But with 16 minutes left North End’s substitutes also had an influence. Some brilliant forward play from Louis Moult – on for Nmecha – played the ball out for Barkhuizen, who raced to the touchline and drilled the ball across to the back post, another change Brandon Barker had a deflected shot but it fell to Moult in the six-yard box who poked into the Town End goal.
And with five minutes to go the points were assured. It was more superb play from Moult, who collected the ball from Alan Browne’s powerful run, took the defenders to him and then lifted the ball back to the No.8 who volleyed left-footed back into the bottom right hand corner of the goal.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Clarke (c), Earl, Pearson (Ledson, 83), Huntington, Davies, Barkhuizen, Gallagher, Nmecha (Moult, 60), Browne, Robinson (Barker, 69). Subs not used: Maxwell, Fisher, Hughes, Burke.
Blackburn Rovers line-up: Raya, Nyambe, Williams, Reed, Smallwood (Graham, 46), Armstrong (Rothwell, 65), Mulgrew (c), Dack, Lenihan, Bennett, Palmer (Brereton, 69). Subs not used: Leutwiler, Rodwell, Bell, Conway.
Attendance: 19,992 (Blackburn Rovers fans 5,614)
Referee: Mr A Madley