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Zebre vs Leinster Rugby
Guinness Pro12 Round 8
Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi,
Saturday, 5th October 2016, 17:05 (16:05 Irish time)

Television: Not Televised

Leinster went back to the top of the Pro12 last week with a fine win over champions Connacht. Connacht started the stronger but once Leinster started to dominate up front, there was only going to be one winner. Leinster will hope to maintain that progress against a Zebre team on the up after winning their first ever away game in the league at Edinburgh last week.

Zebre put one over their rivals Treviso last season when they beat them to a spot in the Champions Cup. Heavy beatings at the hands of Wasps and Connacht may have woken them up to the realities of life at the top table, but they obviously didn't let it get to them too much when they responded so well in Edinburgh last week. Though that was their first win of the season, they have mainly been competitive in others and only the weather denied them another win when their match against Connacht was called off due to heavy rain when they led 22-10. They have also earned losing bonus points away to the Dragons and at home to Cardiff and Glasgow. They have named a team for tomorrow showing just two changes to last week with Matteo Pratichetti and Charles Reed coming into the backline.

Leo Cullen has rung the changes once again with seven changes to the starting team from last week. Tom Daly finally makes his first Leinster start in the centre starting outside Noel Reid, who was excellent last week. The back three of Isa Nacewa, Adam Byrne and Barry Daly, who scored all of Leinster's points last week, gets another run together. Ross Byrne, Leinster's only available out-half, makes his second start for Leinster but will have the experienced Jamison Gibson-Park to help guide him. The back row of Sean O'Brien, Dan Leavy and Jack Conan goes again, but there is a new second row in the massively experienced pair of Hayden Triggs and Mike McCarthy. In the front row the powerful Andrew Porter makes his first Leinster start at loosehead while Richardt Strauss makes his first senior appearance of the season at hooker. Michael Bent completes the all new front row in the last of the changes to the side. Even with all the internationals away, Leinster can name a strong bench with Mike Ross, Mick Kearney and Rhys Ruddock to call on and wing Hugo Keenan will make his debut off the bench if brought on.

Don't be surprised if Leinster take a while to break Zebre down but they should come through strongly by the end of the match.

Team Lineups


Leinster Rugby
Teams Edoardo Padovani 15 Isa Nacewa (C)
Giulio Bisegni 14 Adam Byrne
Matteo Pratichetti 13 Tom Daly
Tommaso Castello 12 Noel Reid
Giovanbattista Venditti 11 Barry Daly
Charles Reed 10 Ross Byrne
Marcello Violi 9 Jamison Gibson-Park

Andrea Lovotti 1 Andrew Porter
Tommaso D'Apice 2 Richardt Strauss
Dario Chistolini 3 Michael Bent
Quintin Geldenhuys 4 Mike McCarthy
George Biagi (C) 5 Hayden Triggs
Maxime Mbanda 6 Dan Leavy
Johan Meyer 7 Sean O'Brien
Andries Van Schalkwyk 8 Jack Conan

Replacements Carlo Festuccia 16 James Tracy
Bruno Postiglioni 17 Peter Dooley
Pietro Ceccarelli 18 Mike Ross
Federico Ruzza 19 Mick Kearney
Derick Minnie 20
Rhys Ruddock
William Palazzani 21 Nick McCarthy
Carlo Engelbrecht 22 Dominic Ryan
Simone Toys 23 Hugo Keenan

Not Considered
Due to Injury
Kurt Baker,
Mattia Bellini,
Valerio Bernabo,
Dion Berryman,
Thomas Boni,
Serafin Bordoli,
Andrea De Marchi,
Gabriele Di Giulio,
Joshua Furno,
Lloyd Greeff,
Gideon Koegelenberg,
Andrea Handles,
Jacopo Sarto,
Kayle Van Zyl

Ian Fitzpatrick,
Billy Dardis,
Fergus McFadden,
Dave Kearney,
Cathal Marsh,
Rory O'Loughlin
Officials Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU, 140th competition game),
Assistant Referees: Simon Rees (WRU), Filippo Bertelli (FIR),
Citing Commissioner: Stefano Marrama (FIR)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2016-11-04