Towcestrians took control of the South West One East title race with a brilliant 29-14 win over second-placed Salisbury.
A packed Greens Norton Road were in buoyant mood prior to kick-off as Tows faced their toughest task of the season so far against rivals Salisbury, one of only two teams to have bested the Tows this season.
The Wiltshire outfit sat three points behind Tows in second and knew a victory of any kind would see them back at the top, while Tows had a great opportunity to create some breathing space in the race for automatic promotion.
The home side began well in wet and muddy conditions, using great hands to put winger Matt Yuill over in the corner for an early unconverted try.
Salisbury found their feet and applied pressure in both the set-piece and in the loose as indiscipline caused Tows to concede penalties and Salisbury kicked two and led 6-5.
The visitors now looked to turn the screw and while some dogged defence temporarily kept them at bay, the pressure finally told with their first try.
Tows now trailed by six but a crucial penalty from James Falvey on the stroke of half-time brought them to within three at the interval.
Whatever first team coach Darren Snook said at half-time galvanised Tows into action, and despite the dismal conditions, they were keen to outline exactly why they have scored 100 points more than their nearest rivals this season.
Collecting the ball from the restart, Tows moved down field through numerous phases and off-loads, excellent recycling from both backs and forwards eventually resulting in the superb Murray Aitchison breaking from the 22 and then popping the ball up for Scott Browne to crash over under the sticks.
An easy conversion followed to put Tows 15-11 up, and the home side then produced the best move of the match. From a midfield scrum, the ball moved down the back line with Browne looping to create an overlap, a quick inside pass to right wing Chalcraft who then fed outside for left wing Yuill to score his second.
A difficult kick from near the touchline was dispatched with ease by Falvey as Tows extended their lead to 22-11.
Salsbury came back with everything they had but all the visitors could muster was a penalty, which reduced the deficit to eight points.
With Salisbury tiring as time ticked away, it was Towcester who gained the advantage in the set-piece and after a great break through the forwards, led by the excellent Liam Wilkinson and Craig Holton, Salisbury conceded a penalty on their own line.
Skipper Osborne opted for a scrum and that proved the correct choice as it resulted in a penalty try that secured a superb victory as well as a much sought after bonus-point.
Snook said: “The guys did a terrific job. To play the way we played in those conditions takes skill but is also mentally demanding. We took a lot of stick from them when we lost down there and we used that as motivation, it’s a long way back down there when you’ve got nothing to show for it.”
There is no let up for Tows who visit local rivals Leighton Buzzard this Saturday.