TWO devastating spells of rugby at the start of each half proved decisive as Burton hammered lowly Malvern at Peel Croft on Saturday.
Matt Tivey claimed a brace of tries inside six minutes as the Crofters stamped their authority on the match.
The hosts trumped that opening in the second period, with four tries in as many four minutes.
Burton now have a four-point advantage over third-placed Hereford, who slipped to a 24-15 home reverse against Midlands One leaders Lichfield.
Fourth-placed Walsall remain in the hunt, a further two points behind Hereford after their narrow win over Silhillians on Saturday.
Perhaps crucially, the Crofters also now enjoy a superior points difference over the side in third – as well as a game in hand.
In glorious playing conditions Burton were direct from the outset with two tries from an unusual source.
Tivey crossed the line in the first and sixth minutes as the prop immediately set the tone. Malvern could not cope with Burton’s pace and power – and the backs soon got in on the act.
Sam Benjamin touched down on 10 minutes following a great series of plays involving virtually the whole side.
Not to be outdone, Joe Gazzard and Liam Hucknall added further scores to take Burton up to 31-0 after 25 minutes.
The sizeable crowd could have been forgiven for thinking that the hosts were in for a landslide victory – but Malvern to hit back on 34 and 38 minutes to make the half-time score 31-12.
Rather than spark an unlikely recover, the away tries proved the catalyst for Burton to again turn on the style.
Four tries in four minutes underlined their superiority.
Tom Harris overpowered the Malvern backline to score in the corner before Ian Gilmour finished off a great move.
Sam Benjamin then outstripped the visiting defence to touch down in the corner.
And Gilmour capped a devastating spell by skipping through the Malvern defence for another try.
Joel Briggs then replaced Cook and Harry Titley came on for Gilmour – and both replacements were soon involved.
Titley finished off yet another fine Burton move before Gazzard suffered an injury and was replaced by the versatile Craig Dutton.
Malvern refused to simply accept a heavy loss, and their impressive attacking backs proved their worth as they secured a bonus point with two more tries.
Burton hit back with Lawrence Betty – who had been running great lines all game – scoring an impressive try.
Benjamin then completed a well deserved hat-trick to cap a superb day for the hosts.
The Crofters now look forward to a couple of huge weeks in their bid to secure second spot in Midlands One West.
Burton travel to Market Bosworth on Saturday before a crunch clash at Hereford seven days later.
TOUCH rugby sessions begin this evening at Peel Croft.
The sessions run from 7pm to 8pm and are priced £2.50 for non-members and free of charge to Burton RFC members.
Males and females, aged 15 and above, are invited to take part.