Racing Metro moved to the top Pool 5 in the European Champions Cup on Sunday thanks to a 53-7 thrashing of Treviso at Stade Yves-du-Manoir.
The bonus point win means that Racing and Northampton are now level on points ahead of next weekend’s final pool game showdown at Franklin’s Gardens.
Dimitri Szarzewski scored a hat-trick while Juan Imhoff and Benjamin Lapeyre both touched down twice.
As expected, Racing dominated the opening period and were 19-0 up by the interval through Henry Chavancy, Lapeyre and Szarzewski tries.
Racing’s front-rower added two more touchdowns in the second period while Imhoff (twice) and Lapeyre also crossed the whitewash.
They were awarded a penalty try to complete the win but Michele Campagnaro went over for Trevios for a consolation score.
The Parisians had already put themselves in an excellent position to qualify following three victories and a draw before this encounter.
A match against Treviso therefore provided them with an opportunity to go a step further towards securing their place in the knockout stages. It also offered them a chance to improve their points’ difference such was the gulf in class between the two teams.
In December, Racing’s main rival in the group, Northampton, beat Benetton 67-0 and the Top 14 side went out with the same intent.
Just nine minutes had elapsed when Chavancy touched down to set the tone.
However, the visitors’ defence remained resilient for the next quarter before another period of pressure close to the opposition line resulted in Lapeyre going over.
Once again, the Italians played with spirit but they struggled to create chances as Racing controlled most facets of play.
One of the excellent parts of their game, the driving maul, saw the hosts extend their advantage at the break as a powerful surge ended in Szarzewski crossing the whitewash.
That same tactic also paid dividends at the start of the second period. Following Rupert Harden’s yellow card for a needless challenge on Marc Andreu, the Parisian hooker powered over for his second score.
Effectively, Racing’s job was done having sealed the bonus-point, but they went in search of more tries and Szarzewski was on the end of that trusty catch and drive for the third time.
Treviso, to their credit, responded with a try of their own from Campagnaro, but even that came from an intercept, and it wasn’t long before the home side were over the line again.
This time it was Imhoff who scored a superb individual effort as they added to the away team’s pain.
Referee JP Doyle then awarded Racing a penalty try following a dominant scrum before their right-winger touched down once again. Lapeyre completed the scoring with a 79th minute effort as they passed the 50 mark.
For Racing Metro:
Tries: Chavancy, Lapeyre 2, Szarzewski 3, Imhoff 2, Penalty try
Cons: Machenaud 2, Dambielle 2
Yellow card: Harden
Racing Metro: 15 Benjamin Lapeyre, 14 Juan Imhoff, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Henry Chavancy, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Benjamin Dambielle, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Bernard Le Roux, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Francois van der Merwe, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski (c), 1 Eddy Ben Arous.
Replacements: 16 Virgile Lacombe, 17 Julien Brugnaut, 18 Walter Desmaison, 19 Tomas Lavinini, 20 Juandre Kruger, 21 Camille Gerondeau, 22 Mike Phillips, 23 Yoan Audrin.
Treviso: 15 Angelo Esposito, 14 Simone Ragusi, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Enrico Bacchin, 11 Andrea Pratichetti, 10 Joe Carlisle, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Francesco Minto, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Meyer Swanepoel, 5 Marco Fuser, 4 Antonio Pavanello (c), 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Albert Alfred Anae, 1 Matteo Zanusso.
Replacements: 16 Amar Kudin, 17 Jos