Barnstaple preserved their four-point lead at the top of the South West Premier table by inflicting a 36-16 defeat on visiting University of Exeter on Saturday.

Two tries in the 10 minutes before half time put Barnstaple in control of what had been a close affair until then.

Barnstaple lost two players to yellow cards in the second half, not that they suffered unduly either time they went down to 14 men.

The Students also played part of the half a man short when Jordan Bond was yellow carded after scoring his second try following a post-score flare-up.

Things could not be going much better for Barnstaple, who have only dropped one point this season and have a game in hand on chasers Weston-super-Mare.

Jeremy Chugg, Barnstaple's director of rugby, said the key to winning the game was superiority in most elements of the game.

"You know the University want to play rugby and they will come at you for 80 minutes - and they did," said Chugg.

"Ball in hand they are very useful but are not always strong enough for the driving game up front.

"What they don't want to do is get involved in too many set pieces which they try to avoid, but sooner or later the game always goes to a set piece.

"We were pinching their ball at scrums and line-outs and without it they can't hurt you that much."

Luke Berry, Winston James and Ryan Lee scored the first-half tries for Barnstaple. All were converted by Kyran McManus to put them 21-6 up.

Joe Elderkin landed two penalties for the visitors.

Ashlee Crouch went over twice for Barnstaple in the second half and Robbie Hume also touched down.

Barnstaple travel to Exmouth this Saturday for a Devon derby.