Preview: Cardiff Blues v Zebre

Date published: May 15 2015

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Zebre are still fighting for a place in the Champions Cup as they travel to Cardiff to face the Blues in the final round of the PRO12 on Saturday.

Cardiff Arms Park is a special venue for the team from Parma as it is the location of their first historic PRO12 victory back in September 2013.

It will be a final game for scrum-half Brendon Leonard while Mauro Bergamasco will play his last club career game after 18 seasons.

Meanwhile, full-back Aled Summerhill will make his PRO12 debut for Cardiff Blues after being named in the starting line-up for the hosts.

Summerhill is one of nine changes for the Blues.

Prop Gethin Jenkins returns to captain the team and is joined in a new-look front-row by Kristian Dacey and Adam Jones, who plays his final game for the region before departing.

Lock Lou Reed will play in the second-row alongside Filo Paulo, who also starts his final game for Cardiff Blues before moving to Italy. There is also a call-up into the back-row for Macauley Cook.

Scrum-half Tavis Knoyle wins a starting spot alongside Rhys Patchell while wing Richard Smith and centre Tom Isaacs are also called into a new backline.

Hooker Matthew Rees misses the game after undergoing shoulder surgery while Jarrad Hoeata (concussion) and Joaquin Tuculet (ribs) are also ruled out.

"It’s been a tough season for us, but all we can do now is put in a massive performance over the final 80 minutes of the season for the fans," said forwards coach Dale McIntosh.

"Zebre have plenty to play for as they look to claim a place in the top tier of European competition next season. However, our motivation is huge too and we have to play to the best of our ability to get the right result.

"It’s been a quick turnaround since Scarlets and so we’ve concentrated this week on making sure people are energised. We’ve focussed on ourselves, what we are about and what we want to achieve.

"It’s great to see Gethin Jenkins back as captain," he added.

"He has been phenomenal in terms of his contribution the last few weeks.

"He’s flying and ready for the last game. He wants to play in front of our fans as do players like Sam Warburton. They’re ready to go.

"The fans have been superb this season and stuck with us throughout. We now really want to perform for them on the final day and give them something to smile about and the victory they deserve."

Form: Cardiff Blues have lost their last five matches in all tournaments but have not lost six in succession since autumn 2012. The Blues lost their most recent encounter with an Italian opponent, 24-40 in Treviso in round 15, but have never been beaten in successive games to sides from that country. Zebre must win to give themselves any hope of overhauling Benetton Treviso for the Italian qualifier's spot in next season European Champions Cup. Zebre have lost their last five Guinness PRO12 fixtures since beating the Dragons in Parma on 1st March. The Italians return to the scene of their only previous away victory in the PRO12 on 20th September 2013. The two sides have met on five previous occasions with Blues having the slight edge by three wins to two.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Aled Summerhill, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Richard  Smith, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Josh Navidi 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Macauley Cook, 5 Lou Reed, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Gethin Jenkins (c).
Replacements: 16 Rhys Williams, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Taufa’ao Filise, 19 Josh Turnbull, 20 Manoa Vosawai, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Garyn Smith, 23 Gareth Anscombe.

Zebre: 15 Dion Berryman, 14 Giulio Toniolatti, 13 Mirco Bergamasco, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 David Odiete, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 6 Mauro Bergamasco, 5 Marco Bortolami (c), 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Andrea De Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D'Apice, 17 Andrea Lovotti, 18 Luca Redolfini, 19 Valerio Bernabò, 20 Filippo Ferrarini, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Tommaso Iannone, 23 Filippo Cristiano.

Date: Saturday, May 16
Kick-off: 15:00 BST, 14:00 GMT
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park
Referee: Gary Conway (IRFU, 12th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Neil Hennessy, Sean Brickell
Citing Commissioner: Jeff Mark (WRU)
TMO: TBC

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