Stade Français' trip to Treviso rejuvenated their European challenge in an emphatic and much-needed 50-17 bonus point win on Saturday.
The French side threw themselves a lifeline for their qualification out of the pool stages with this result in rainy conditions.
With a loss against Leicester Tigers in the previous round leaving Stade needing to maximize all point opportunities, the French side bristled with physicality and intent from the first whistle.
Glittering performances from Wallaby scrum-half Will Genia together with powerhouse work from new boy Willem Alberts and veteran Pascal Papé gave fly-half Jules Plisson an armchair ride and his variety of playmaking set the tone throughout the first half.
Rugby is increasingly a game of accuracy and, led by the sublime Sergio Parisse, Stade’s forwards simply played the hosts off the park in this respect; superior in the line-out, ruthless at scrum and dynamic at ruck-time, Stade’s precision and execution were a world apart from the physical yet uncoordinated efforts of Treviso.
A penalty for a collapsed scrum was slotted by Jules Plisson and a few moments later a Parisse-initiated maul trundled some 20 metres down the openside wing and great interplay from the electric Will Genia sent Julien Arias over for a simple score.
With a litany of basic errors in midfield from the homeside allowing Plisson to exert a stranglehold over proceedings, a simple backline move opened the paperweight Treviso defence sending Arias over for a brace in ten minutes.
After 11 minutes the floodgates opened further and a third try for the visitors made from turnover ball in their own half featured superb interplay with Genia and Meyer Bosman swapping in to out passes before sending centre Paul Williams over on the left flank.
A feature of the contact area battle highlighted the difference in numbers committed by the respective teams; Stade happy to allow Treviso the throw numbers in but then hold off to defend the ball rather than the pillaring players. Nothing demonstrated this more when yet another turnover allowed flanker Sylvain Nicolas an unopposed 40-metre run to the Treviso try line after 23 minutes.
Bosman’s try on 30 minutes highlighted the difference in precision; Parisse caught the quickest of lineouts and Will Genia’s speed of pass to Williams allowed the centre to straighten, Treviso’s centres both stepped in to take the contact, thus creating a hole for his centre partner to crash through.
Try as they might, any sustained pressure Treviso managed was neutered by their final execution, as time and time again the final pass was spilled or their drive into contact was turnover by the marauding Stade back row and half-time saw a deficit of 36 points without reply.
Momentum stayed with the visitors after the break, and it was fitting that the former star of Treviso, Parisse, burst onto a great offload by Nicolas to give the Italian talisman a 30-metre gallop for the most popular try of the afternoon.
As Treviso pressed and pressed, execution again let them down and the Treviso defence disintegrated further scores from Paul Williams added insult to injury as Treviso enjoyed a very tough shift.
Industrious wing Edoardo Gori, the one Trevisan that lived up to his billing, was the home side’s only effective attacking weapon and it was fitting he managed to set up Christie to scramble over after 60 minutes, in a move where Gori featured six times.
Replacements Simone Ragusi and Marco Lazzaroni added a brace in the closing minutes, capitalising on handling errors in the wet by Stade as the visitors, in fairness, took their foot off the gas.
Tries: Christie, Ragusi, Lazzaroni
For Stade Français:
Tries: Williams 2, Parisse, Vuidravuwalu, Arias, Nicolas, Bosman
Cons: Plisson 6
Treviso: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Andrea Pratichetti, 13 Enrico Bacchin, 12 Samuel Christie, 11 Edoardo Gori, 10 Jayden Hayward, 9 Chris Smylie, 8 Alessandro Zanni, 7 Francesco Minto, 6 Andrea De Marchi, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Rudolph Naude, 3 Alberto de Marchi, 2 Ornel Gega, 1 Matteo Zanusso.
Replacements: 16 Roberto Santamaria, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Rupert Harden, 19 Tom Palmer, 20 Marco Lazzaroni, 21 Alberto Sgarbi, 22 James Ambrosini, 23 Simone Ragusi.
Stade Français: 15 Djibril Camara, 14 Julien Arias, 13 Paul Williams, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Waisea Vuidarvuwalu, 10 Jules Plisson, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sergio Parisse, 7 Sylvain Nicolas, 6 Willem Alberts, 5 Pascal Papé, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Paul Alo Emile, 2 Laurent Sempéré, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Laurent Panis, 17 Zurabi Zhvania, 18 Zak Taulafo, 19 Paul Gabrillagues, 20 Raphael Lakafia, 21 Clement Daguin, 22 Jonathan Danty, 23 Hugo Bonneval.
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce (England), Peter Allan (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)
by James While