Ulster racked up their fifth successive win by trouncing bottom side Zebre 68-21 to move up to fourth in the PRO12 and back into contention for the play-offs.
Les Kiss’ side scored a record 10 tries in this rearranged game against the Italians — the Kingspan Stadium surface was frozen back in November – and are now four points ahead of the Scarlets, with all the chasing sides having five games remaining.
The game also saw Ulster rack up their biggest ever points total, beating the 67 points scored against Caerphilly in 2002, in a fixture already sewn up by half-time when the hosts led 35-7.
There was a total of 13 tries from both sides and Ruan Pienaar led the scoring with 17 points from a try and six conversions, while Stuart Olding contributed 11 with his try and three conversions and Luke Marshall bagged two more.
Gideon Koegelenberg was yellow-carded after three minutes for a high tackle on Olding and Ulster had their first score shortly afterwards from Marshall which was converted by Pienaar.
Serafin Bordoli then missed a 10th-minute penalty but Zebre managed to tie the scores after 12 minutes when prop Andrea De Marchi scrambled over for an unexpected score which Bordoli converted.
Stung into action, Ulster hit back almost immediately with Marshall’s second after Charles Piutau ran a kick back.
Pienaar added the extras and then did so again after running in his own score on 17 minutes to put Ulster 21-7 up just as they lost number eight Marcell Coetzee to injury.
Marshall then thought he had a hat-trick, and Ulster’s bonus point, just before the 20-minute mark but the centre was offside.
The bonus point did arrive on 26 minutes when Jared Payne’s pass helped put Piutau over and Pienaar converted again.
Try number five was not long in coming and Jacob Stockdale powered over from an Olding pass on the half hour. Pienaar once more added the extras and Ulster went off at the break leading with a healthy lead.
Craig Gilroy was next to score and got over four minutes after the restart for Ulster’s sixth try, with Pienaar getting two more points.
Piutau then got Ulster’s seventh although Olding was unable to convert, with Pienaar off the field.
Replacement hooker John Andrew was next on 53 minutes, Olding’s conversion taking the score to 54-7 in the 66th minute.
Zebre then scored a consolation through Guillermo Roan, converted by Matteo Pratichetti, before normal service was resumed when Olding got the home side’s ninth and another conversion.
Paul Marshall completed the rout with Ulster’s 10th try, again converted by Olding, before Lloydd Greeff grabbed a third for the Italians to add a smidge more respectability to the score.