Banbridge made a major statement of intent as they thumped long time rivals Monkstown 5-1 at the Merrion Fleet Arena, further demonstrating why they are the fancied side for silverware at this stage of the season.
It eked out a two-point lead at the top of the table ahead of Three Rock Rovers who were 3-1 winners over reigning champions Lisnagarvey.
For Bann, they led at the break thanks to a pair of Eugene Magee strikes as he continues to enjoy his more advanced role in the line-up. Matthew Bell added a penalty stroke to put them all but out of sight.
Davy Carson got one back for Town but further efforts from Jonny McKee and Dane Ward sealed an emphatic win.
For Rovers, they were without key players Ross Canning, Ben Walker and Jody Hosking and lost Garry Ringwood to a hamstring injury 10 minutes in against a Garvey side shy Michael Robson and Timmy Cockram.
But the Dubliners made light of those absentees to take a half-time lead via debutant Rob McCollum before Conor Empey doubled the advantage. Daniel Buser halved the deficit but Mark Samuel’s solo effort won the tie.
At the bottom, Railway Union and Instonians both produced important wins in their respective plights.
Railway stunned Cork C of I 4-1, netting twice in the opening eight minutes, to rise out of the relegation playoff place.
Inst, meanwhile, recorded their first win of the season when they beat UCD 3-1 at Shawsbridge.
William Robinson and Jeremy Duncan exchanged goals to see the tie level with four minutes to go.
But Mark Irwin and Stephen Kelso snatched last ditch goals to earn the win and raise hopes of avoiding the drop.
Pembroke came from 2-0 down in the first quarter to beat Glenanne 5-2 and move into a share of fifth place.
Stephen Brownlow and Shane O’Donoghue gave the Glens a flying start but Scott Furlong got Pembroke back in the mix before a second half Alan Sothern hat trick earned the Dublin 4 side a thrilling win.