Zebre v Connacht, PRO14 round 19 preview and team news.

Zebre v Connacht

Guinness PRO14, Conference A, Round 19

Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma @5:30pm, Saturday 6th April 2019

Third-placed Connacht face bottom of the table Zebre in an all-Conference A clash in Parma on Saturday evening. Connacht have the chance to gain an edge on Cardiff, with both sides sitting on 52 points before Cardiff’s trip to Cork to face Munster tonight. Connacht will hope for a favour from their neighbours to the south in that one.

Michael Bradley’s Zebre side have struggled badly at times this season, but they have shown potential for great things at times. Anyone who saw their ambition and attacking verve in the first half of their visit to Thomond Park in Zebre’s last match couldn’t fail to be impressed by them. At one stage the lead Munster by 0-12 and indeed should have been further ahead as Carlo Canna missed a conversion and two penalties during that spell. The concession of a try just before the break was a hammer blow to their confidence. Munster smothered them in the second half and pulled away to win 31-12 as Zebre failed to trouble the scoreboard during the second period.

Andy Friend shuffles his pack for this game, making eleven changes from the side that that lost out to Sale Sharks in their Challenge Cup quarter-final tie last weekend. However, there are only four changes from the side that defeated Treviso in their last PRO14 encounter in the Sportsground two weeks ago. In the pack Denis Buckley starts again, Dave Heffernan comes in at hooker, in place of Shane Delahunt and Dominic Robertson-McCoy starts in place of the injured Finlay Bealham. In the second row Gavin Thornbury and Ultan Dillane pair up. While Eoin McKeon, Jarrad Butler and Colby Fainga’a have by now become a familiar back-row partnership.

Caolin Blade and Jack Carty continue as the half-backs, and Matt Healy returns to take his place on the left wing. Darragh Leader lines out on the right wing as Peter Robb and Tom Farrell pair-up in the centre. Tiernan O’Halloran once again is named at full-back.

TEAMS

ZEBRE

  1. Andrea Lovotti
  2. Oliviero Fabiani
  3. Marco Ciccioli
  4. David Sisi
  5. George Biagi (c)
  6. Jimmy Tuvaiti
  7. Maxime Mbandá
  8. Renato Giammarioli
  9. Joshaua Renton
  10. Francois Brummer
  11. James Elliot
  12. Tommaso Boni
  13. Giulio Bisegni
  14. Mattia Bellini
  15. Edoardo Padovani

Replacments: 16. Massimo Ceciliani, 17. Daniele Rimpelli, 18. Giosué Zilocchi, 20. James Brown, 21. Guglielmo Palazzani, 22. Nicolas De Battista, 23. Gabriele Di Giulio.

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