While the 2016 title winners only occupy mid-table positions at present, they have won all their three games and have played two matches fewer than Pontefract and second-placed Queens. The same can also be said of 2015 champions Dunnington.
Barnsley condemned the leaders to their second defeat of the season with a hard-fought 14-10 home victory, while Dunnington overcame Abbeydale Reserves 16-7.
Barnsley were strengthened by the inclusion of world No 39 Declan James, winner of the NASH Cup in Canada last month, at first string and he saw off Taminder Gata Aura 3-1.
Miles Jenkins defeated Alex Hodgetts by the same score and Chris Fuller edged home 3-2 against Neil Cordell to clinch the bonus points, although Lewis Doughty and Sam Todd made them fight all the way with 3-0 drubbings of Josh Greaves and Phil Bowker respectively.
Dunnington were also taken the full distance, with Julian Tomlinson, Danny Hockborn and Ben Cross scoring the necessary wins against Matthew Broadberry (3-0), Adam Turner (3-1) and Nick King (3-0).
Abbeydale’s victories came via Phil Scully – a 3-2 winner versus Andy Cross – and Sam Watts, who overpowered Ed Shannon, returning from injury, 3-0.
Meanwhile, Queens suffered their second loss of the season as well, going down at rejuvenated Hull and East Riding, who stormed to their second successive victory by a 17-4 margin.
With world no 30 Fiona Moverley again in their team, Hull and ER claimed four of the five rubbers – via Moverley, Harry Falconer, Glyn Saunders and Paul Norton, who respectively beat Tom Gudzelak (3-0), Matt Sidaway (3-1), Lewis Scott (3/0) and Emma Gill (3-0). Yusef Forster was the odd one out, succumbing 3-0 to Connor Sheen.
At the bottom of the table, Hallamshire made it three defeats in three games with a 17-5 home loss to Chapel Allerton.
Mark Fuller, Owain Taylor, Simon Parke and Declan Christie sealed the Leeds club’s triumph with wins over George Parker, Nick Wall, Mike Pearson and Neil Guirey, with only Parker staying on court longer than three games in a five-game thriller against Fuller. Alex Cutts scored a consolation 3-0 victory for Hallamshire against Cameron Ward.