Hornets humble North Bristol and all but wrap up promotion
LEADERS Hornets underlined their superiority in Western Counties North with a 50-0 home humbling of fourth-placed North Bristol, who were blown away by six first-half tries.
Centre Matt Cornish led the charge with a hat-trick, while player-coach Alec Chase maintained his prolific record with a double. Joe Gadd, Sean Disney and replacement Bobby Hewlett also crossed in a game moved across the road to a sports centre pitch because of conditions at the Nest.
Hornets are now 14 points clear of Wells, and 16 ahead of Barton Hill, who dropped a place to third as their rivals made the most of matches in hand.
Hornets appear to have the title and automatic promotion wrapped up, but the battle for second place and a play-off will go right down to the wire.
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Five of Wells' six remaining matches are at home, including a date with Barts, while the Somerset side have to face Hornets twice.
Barts, though, also have a challenging run-in with two games against Combination rivals North Bristol.
At the other end of the table, Keynsham kept alive their hopes of avoiding the drop with a 25-15 home defeat of Matson.
Next up is a home date on Saturday with relegation rivals Berry Hill, while looming home and away clashes with neighbours and fellow strugglers Bristol Harlequins will also have an important bearing on who stays up.
Old Reds moved four points clear at the top of South West One West with a 6-0 home defeat of Cleve.
Ashley Groves was on target with a penalty, while Mike Schropfer chipped over a drop goal to help Reds secure vital points from their game in hand on promotion rivals Camborne and North Petherton.
It was far from pretty with muddy conditions and a hail storm hardly helping, but Reds were happy to take a win, particularly after suffering a 13-6 setback away to their Combination rivals at the start of the campaign.
With four matches to go, Reds are masters of their own destiny as the Brislington club bid to bounce straight back to the national leagues after last season's relegation.
Their next two matches are both against relegation strugglers, away to Paignton and then home to Oldfield, before the regulation season is concluded with a trip to Thornbury and home date against Wadebridge.
Chard completed the double over Clevedon with a 36-10 home triumph. Oscar James rounded off a sweeping backs move to give the visitors hope in the first half but Chard dominated the second period with three pushover tries.
Clevedon's other try came from hooker Jack Williams after a line-out move.
In National Three South West, meanwhile, Avonmouth's home date with Chippenham fell victim to a waterlogged pitch, and will now take place on March 30.
There was a boost for the Barracks Lane outfit as news came through that relegation rivals Malvern slipped 32-12 away to Old Pats.
Avonmouth are five points clear of third bottom Malvern with five games to go, including a potentially crucial trip on April 13 to Oxford Harlequins, who are already all but relegated.
The first Somerset Cup semi-final takes place tonight at Weston-super-Mare where South West One West rivals Clevedon and Old Reds lock horns (7.30pm).
The second semi, between Weston and holders North Petherton, is scheduled to be held at Taunton on March 26 (7.30pm).
There is a new date, meanwhile, for the Good Morning Disposables Cyril Parsons Bowl semi-final between Bristol Barbarians and Gordano.
The match had been due tomorrow, but will now be staged under Gordano's impressive new floodlights on March 27 (7.30pm).