Damian Willemse starred in his 50th appearance while Seabelo Senatla scored a hat-trick as the Stormers thrashed Zebre in Stellenbosch to complete a perfect weekend for South African teams in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.
The 55-7 victory saw the Stormers join the Vodacom Bulls, Lions and Sharks in winning their first home fixtures against overseas opponents.
John Dobson’s team has climbed back into the playoff spots, leapfrogging the Bulls and Connacht into eighth place.
Playing in their first match at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch, the Stormers set the field alight in a first-half onslaught which saw the hosts score five of their nine tries in the match.
It was a particularly special day for Willemse. The 23-year-old, schooled down the road from the stadium at Paul Roos, celebrated his 50th cap with another awesome performance.
Willemse played at inside centre in the first half, before switching to fullback in the second, as Warrick Gelant was replaced at half-time. He looked comfortable in both roles, scoring a well-taken try in the first half when he spotted a gap in the defence and turned on the afterburners.
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It was also a memorable evening for Senatla. The second of his three tries was the pick of the lot, as he attacked from broken play, chipped over the defence and won the race to ground the ball over the line.
Having taken a 33-0 lead into the break, the Stormers would have been wary of complacency entering their game in the second half. This is especially as, in the first week of the season, Zebre fought back from being 35-0 down to the Lions at half-time to score 26 unanswered points.
It seemed as though the Italians were getting back into the match in a similar manner in Stellenbosch when former Southern Kings centre Erich Cronje dotted down flyhalf Carlo Canna’s kick behind the Stormers defence.
However, the Stormers composed themselves and Seabelo Senatla and Leolin Zas both scored their second tries in quick succession. Things went from bad to worse for Zebre when they lost wing Asaeli Tuivuaka to a red card for a dangerous tackle.
The Stormers took full advantage as Ntubeni, back on the field as an injury replacement for Andre-Hugo Venter, scored his second before Senatla sped away for his first Stormers hat-trick to bring up the half-centry of points.
Photo: EJ Langner/Gallo Images