Cape Town — The Stormers scored nine tries to sweep Zebre Parma aside to claim a 55-7 victory in their United Rugby Championship match at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch on Sunday evening.
The Cape side were by far the favourites going into the encounter. The bottom-of-the-log Italian side haven’t won a game in over a year so, while this result should be seen in context, it is nonetheless a superb one, and one hat should put the Stormers’ confidence in a good place heading into a strong of home games.
The Stormers made it look all too easy when flyhalf Manie Libbok sniped through to score the opener under the posts after Evan Roos broke the line and sparked the counter-attacking move. Libbok added the easy conversion to go 7-0 up.
Damian Willemse made it a top start to his 50th Stormers game when he turned on the gas to beat a couple of defenders (14-0), and the home side made it three tries in 10 minutes when Warrick Gelant put in a cross kick and found Ruhan Nel, moved the ball to Leolin Zas to finish (21-0).
Early in the second quarter, Seabelo Senatla pounced on a loose ball and — as is to be expected — couldn’t be stopped as he sprinted his way to the try line for their bonus-point try (28-0).
Zebre never really looked like scoring in the first half. They came close around the half-hour mark, but they butchered their opportunity just short of the whitewash.
The Stormers also had two more promising opportunities thereafter, but they lost it in the 22. They made up for those fumbles on the stroke of half time, with hooker Scarra Ntubeni going over in the corner after a maul. Libbok’s attempt from touch went wide (33-0).
After a solid opening 40, the Stormers had a poor start to the second half, allowing the Italians in to score a try through Erich Cronje after (33-7), while the also made a couple of errors shortly after the break.
Senatla got the crowd going the after a quiet period (compared to the first half) after beautifully exploiting space and gathering his own chip to score (38-7).
The Stormers looked like they were getting their flow back towards the end of the third quarter, and Zas got his brace and their seventh try to take John Dobson’s points tally to a healthy 43.
With the visitors down to 14 men thanks to a red card, Ntubeni went over for another maul try (48-7) with five minutes to go.
Senatla got his hat-trick in the 79th minute to take the score to 55-7.
The Stormers next face Cardiff Blues at Cape Town Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 2pm).
Stormers - 55: Tries: Manie Libbok, Damian Willemse, Leolin Zas (2), Seabelo Senatla (3), Scarra Ntubeni (2) Conversions: Libbok (4), Tim Swiel
Zebre - 7: Try: Erich Cronje Conversion: Carlo Canna