BRADFORD on Avon head coach Dave George saluted the club's squad strength as they maintained a four-point lead at the top of the table with a 27-8 success over Pewsey Vale at Ashley Lane.

The home side were without a number of players - Sam Jones, Josh Felix, Jack Rutland and Rufus Faulkner-Lee among them - but delivered the bonus-point success that kept them out in front.

They were ahead early on as centre Murray Dewar touched down and Lewis Somerville booted the conversion, but Pewsey drove forward from the restart and gained 30 metres with a 20-phase pick and go which finally forced a penalty.

Finding touch in the corner hooker Sam Flippance hit the whitewash in the corner from the resulting lineout.

A yellow card to flanker Olly Spence at the end of the first quarter put Vale under pressure and two Bradford tries before half-time allowed them to stretch clear, wing Vaughan Conybear touching down before scrum-half Gareth Wheatley did likewise.

The second half proved a relatively even affair, Somerville and Pewsey's James Haynes swapping penalties before fly half Rob Johnson broke through off-loading to full back Pete Baird on his shoulder, who touched down between the posts only to be called back for a perceived forward pass.

Bradford rubbed salt into the wounds as back row Dean Priestman caught a kick and sent Dewar in for his second score to wrap it up.

George said: "I was a bit worried about it because we had quite a few players missing but the lads who came in did really well.

"We didn't have to impact on the second team too much and it shows that we have got a good squad at the club which is able to cope.''

Pewsey coach Mick Haynes said: "Played in harsh weather conditions this was a hard physical match with both teams sticking to task.

"Taking on the league leaders was always going to be a big challenge and so it proved.

"That said we were unlucky not to be rewarded more for their creditable team effort.

Melksham suffered a third defeat on the trot as they were beaten 25-14 at Avonvale.

In heavy conditions Avonvale stuck with their strengths, a solid driving maul eating up territory and earning them a 15-0 half-time lead.

A further home try arrived after the break but Melksham were sparked by fly-half Callum Hurn's long cross-field kick into space allowing second row Aaron Brailey to touch down out wide, Hurn adding the extras.

A good passage of play from the visitors put pressure on the home team and Luke Cador's power and pace allowed him to force his way over, Hurn again converting.

Melksham continued to pressure the home side, who lost two players to the sin-bin, but they were unable to capitalise and Avonvale scored again before the final whistle.

Warminster were held to an 18-18 draw at Folly Lane by Chippenham 2nd.