In a game that was clearly top versus bottom in division 3SW Hertford racked up a score where even the officials could have been forgiven for losing count.
Captain Ian Dunnett and striker Ben Van Rooyen returned to the match-day thirteen with Chris Vincent and Luke Rawlinson making way.
Hertford dominated proceedings from the off, with West Herts seemingly setting out to protect their goal difference - making things congested in their own circle - and feeding off scraps up front.
Hertford had the ball in the goal early on, when Darren Norman's pivot and shot found the bottom corner, only to be interrupted by the umpire's whistle awarding a penalty corner. Fortunately van Rooyen finished a neat switched routine, flicking in beyond the goalie's stick for his 14th of the season.
Hertford still had to be wary of possible breakaway attacks at the other end. Dunnett getting back to deflect an effort wide, as Ian Pledger slid out to narrow the angle.
The home side resumed their attacks. A strong cross in from the left led to a goalmouth melee, with Arthur Twyning sending the ball goal-bound, only for it to be illegally blocked by a defender. The whistle went for a penalty stroke, just as Ciaran Begg put the ball in the goal. Nick Downer stepped up and slotted into the bottom corner from the spot.
West Herts tried to respond with some moments of pressure before the break, including forcing Ben Tootell into a mistimed tackle which earned him a green card, but Hertford delivered a sucker-punch on the counter attack to make it three nil on the stroke of half time. A good interchange down the left set Jamie O'Sullivan racing, whose infield ball found Dunnett. The skipper drew the last defender at the top of the D, passing to Darren Norman outside the left-post. Norman unselfishly squared to the back-post where a number of players were running in, with right-back Elliot Barling having overlapped, getting the final touch to register his maiden senior competitive goal in his eighth season at the club!
The hosts really turned it on in the second half. As the visitors tired - having traveled with a bare eleven - and became understandably less keen to chase back and help their defenders.
van Rooyen netted a quick fire double to notch up his hat-trick. Firstly Norman's good drive and pull-back gave Dunnett space to beat his man and find the South African on the back-post to jab a spinning ball over the line, and then a through-ball from Downer gave van Rooyen a clear-run at goal, and despite having options left and right, chose to beat the keeper for pace with a thunderous strike from the top of the circle.
It was six before long. A good lay-off by Norman in the D to Dunnett saw him jink on to his reverse and sneak a strike in at the near post.
After three assists Norman then got a goal of his own, neatly picking up a pin-point through ball from Downer on his reverse side and calmly rounding the net minder to slot home.
With no let up, Downer doubled his own tally to make it eight, drag-flicking a short corner routine into the net, and then practically from the restart van Rooyen picked the pocket of a defender, marching into the circle and finishing with a trademark reverse-stick strike.
van Rooyen then got a fifth, Downer once more the provider with a superb ball to the left post, finding van Rooyen, whose control and swivel created room to finish from a narrow angle.
It was Downer who completed the scoring, and his hat-trick in the dying minutes from another short corner routine to end a fine day for Hertford.
The win keeps Hertford at the summit of division 3SW, but with a tough run-in in their final four games, and third-placed Saffron Walden having three games in hand they know they will need to keep up their performances to secure promotion.
This weekend Hertford host Bishop Stortford's 2nd team who despite their league position of 11th have had some strong results in recent weeks against top-half opposition as they fight to avoid relegation.
Hertford: Ian Pledger; Elliot Barling, Simon Halfacre, Ben Tootell, Jamie O'Sullivan; Ian Dunnett, Nick Downer, James Rollins; Darren Norman, Ciaran Begg, Ben Van Rooyen. Subs: Mike Branford, Arthur Twyning.