Toulouse moved provisionally top of Pool 2 in the Champions Cup as they saw off Zebre 54-15 in an eight-try victory at Stade Ernest Wallon.
Following last weekend’s 36-6 thumping of the same side, the French outfit dominated the first-half and went into the break 40-10 ahead.
Although the away team took an early 7-0 advantage through Tommaso D’Apice, the hosts soon found their stride and touched down six times in the opening period. Gillian Galan, Paul Perez, Yoann Huget, Arthur Bonneval, Toby Flood and Guthro Steenkamp all went over for a 30-point half-time buffer.
Johan Meyer briefly reduced the arrears after the interval but Perez and Yann David completed the win.
Zebre were comprehensively outclassed in Parma the previous Saturday but they opened this encounter brightly. The visitors put Toulouse under pressure and were rewarded when an overthrown line-out landed in the arms of D’Apice, who finished well from close range.
That lead only lasted for two minutes as Galan barrelled across the whitewash following some patient build-up before Carlo Canna restored the Italian outfit’s lead from the tee.
At that point, the PRO12 side were well set and continued to string together some good passages of play, but a turnover inside the opposition 22 changed the course of the game. Flood duly surged clear, showing some surprising pace given his advancing years, and excellent hands on the left allowed Perez to scamper over.
That effort proved to be a hammer-blow to Zebre’s hopes and three quick-fire Toulouse tries via Huget, Bonneval and Flood – the second the pick of the scores – took the match out of their reach.
Steenkamp then used his immense strength to extend the hosts’ buffer at the end of the first-half, but the Italians hit back at the start of the second. It was arguably the try of the match. Meyer began and finished the move, initially finding Faialaga Afamasaga with a superb offload. The centre took the ball on 20 metres and, after some quick recycling, the flanker was on hand to step the final defender and score.
Perez soon restored order, touching down following a spell of pressure, before David rubber-stamped the victory.
Tries: Galan, Perez 2, Huget, Bonneval, Flood, Steenkamp, David
Cons: Flood 7
Tries: D’Apice, Meyer
Toulouse: 15 Yoann Huget, 14 Arthur Bonneval, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Toby Flood, 11 Paul Perez, 10 Luke McAlister, 9 Samuel Marques, 8 Gillian Galan, 7 Talalelei Gray, 6 Thierry Dusautoir, 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Gregory Lamboley, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Christopher Tolofua, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp
Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Vasil Kakovin, 18 Maks Van Dyk, 19 Piula Faasalele, 20 Selevasio Tolofua, 21 Sébastien Bezy, 22 Yann David, 23 Kunatani Kunabuli
Zebre: 15 Guglielmo Palazzani, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Matteo Pratichetti, 12 Faialaga Afamasaga, 11 Kayle Van Zyl, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Josh Furno, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 George Biagi, 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 2 Tommaso D’Apice, 1 Bruno Postiglioni
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Andrea de Marchi, 18 Guillermo Roan, 19 Valerio Bernabo, 20 Christofell du Plessis, 21 Carlo Engelbrecht, 22 Serafin Bordoli, 23 Tommy Castello
Referee: Ian Tempest (England)
Assistant Referees: Greg Garner (England), Jonathan Healy (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)