PREVIEW: ULSTER v ZEBRE

Fri, 10 Mar 2017 12:59
Large ruan pienaar ulster tackled 800

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Director of Rugby Les Kiss has made five personnel changes for Saturday's re-arranged Round Nine fixture against Zebre at Kingspan Stadium.

Back in November the game was called off due to the frozen pitch at the Kingspan Stadium.

For the hosts Luke Marshall and Jacob Stockdale, both replacements in last Friday's win over Treviso, will form an all-new midfield partnership.

Al O'Connor, Robbie Diack and Chris Henry are included as new faces in the forward pack.

Stuart Olding, who impressed against Treviso after switching to flyhalf late on, will start in the 10 jersey outside Ruan Pienaar. Jared Payne has overcome a niggle and will line out at fullback, with Craig Gilroy and Charles Piutau set to join him in the back three.

The match will be Stockdale's first start at outside centre, while Marshall will shift to inside centre after playing most of his rugby this season in the 13 jersey.

The front row is unchanged as props Callum Black and Wiehahn Herbst, earning his 50th cap, will start either side of captain Rob Herring. Kieran Treadwell will partner O'Connor in the engine room, while Marcell Coetzee will pack down at No.8 alongside Diack and Henry in the back row.

Rodney Ah You has recovered from injury and is named among the replacements with fellow forwards John Andrew, Andy Warwick, Franco van der Merwe and Clive Ross, who could also make his 50th Ulster appearance.

Backline players Paul Marshall, Pete Nelson and David Busby, who made his debut against the same opposition a fortnight ago, will offer strong impact options off the bench.

Meanhwile for Zebre this will be the second straight game away against an Irish province.

This will be the second and last seasonal challenge between the two teams who met only two weeks ago in Parma. In the first leg, the win went for Ulster with the final score of 40-17.

As for the Lanfranchi Stadium encounter, both teams will have to play without several internationals who will take part in the fourth and penultimate round of the Six Nations.

There will be four Ulstermen in the 23 of Ireland that pays visit to Wales this evening, captain Best along with Henderson, Jackson and Bowe.

There are nine Zebre players representing the Azzurri who will host France on Saturday in Rome with Ceccarelli and Violi still not available for Zebre despite not being included in the 23.
 
Zebre coaching staff has again had to count on the contribution of players licensed by other Italian clubs: In fact, the are four permit players called up for the trip. From the main italian league Eccellenza, in addition to the confirmed Fiamme Oro Rugby flanker Cornelli, the experienced hooker Ferraro of Petrarca Padova is added along with the two young Frenchmen in force this season at Rugby Colorno in the National League Serie A: Julien Nibert and Malou Mornas.

Nibert, former U18 French international lock came to Italy from the youth of Stade Francais, he collected 5 caps in the EPCR Challenge Cup in the 2014/15 season with the Paris based club.

Teams:

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Jacob Stockdale, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Stuart,  9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Allan O'Connor, 4 Kieran Treadwell, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rob Herring (captain), 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Rodney Ah You , 19 Franco van der Merwe, 20 Clive Ross, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Pete Nelson, 23 David Busby

Zebre: 15 Dion Berryman, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Lloyd Greeff, 10 Serafin Bordoli, 9 Carlo Engelbrecht, 8 Federico Ruzza, 7 Gideon Koegelenberg, 6 Matteo Cornelli, 5 Valerio Bernabò, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys (captain), 3 Bartholomeus Le Roux, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Andrea De Marchi.
Replacement: 16 Luigi Ferraro, 17 Bruno Postiglioni, 18 Guillermo Roan, 19 Joshua Furno, 20 Julien Nibert, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Matteo Pratichetti, 23 Malou Mornas

Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Aled Evans (Wales), Dermot Blake (Ireland)
TMO: Neil Hennessy (Wales)

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MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 18 15 0 3 70
Munster 18 15 0 3 68
Ospreys 18 13 0 5 65
Ulster 18 13 0 5 61
Scarlets 18 13 0 5 58
Glasgow Warriors 18 10 0 8 51
Connacht 17 8 0 9 39
Cardiff Blues 18 8 0 10 38
Edinburgh 18 4 0 14 22
Dragons 18 4 0 14 20
Treviso 18 3 0 15 15
Zebre 17 1 0 16 9