Preview: Ospreys v Zebre

Date published: March 27 2015

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Justin Tipuric returns from Wales duty to captain the Ospreys for the visit of Zebre on Saturday in the Pro12.

Head Coach, Steve Tandy: "We are at the business end of the season now and with just five games to go there's no margin for error. It's incredibly tight at the top of the table and we know what we have to do as a group if we want to retain our play-off spot.

"It's great to be able to welcome our Wales boys back. As always, they have reported back for duty at Llandarcy with a great attitude and a real desire to pull on the black shirt again, to help us in our hunt for a play-off place.

"They've all slotted back in seamlessly and had a good training week, but they haven't had it easy, which is exactly how it should be.

"The boys in the core group who have been working tirelessly for the cause over the last two months have really stepped up, as we saw last time out against Munster.

"While that makes selection difficult on the one hand, it also allows us to think longer term as far as the reintegration of the internationals go. That will benefit everybody over the remaining weeks of the season."

Meanwhile, Zebre welcome back seven Italian internationals who played in the Six Nations 2015: Palazzani, Orquera, Vunisa, Bortolami, Geldenhuys, Manici and Visentin while – as part of the game list – there is also the flanker Ferrarini, away from official game time from September 2014 after the injury against Cardiff Blues in the season opener on his left knee.

Form: Ospreys three game winless run in the Pro12 ended with a 26-12 victory at home to Munster in Round 17. Ospreys are unbeaten at Liberty Stadium in the tournament in their last dozen fixtures since Munster beat them there in February 2014.  Zebre have won just one of their last five matches in all tournaments: 23-17 at home to Dragons in the Pro12 on 1st March. The Italian's only away win this season came on a trip to Brive in the European Challenge Cup in October. Zebre's only previous victory over Ospreys was in Parma in the Pro12 in round 21 last season, although the Italian's did score the only try in a 14-15 defeat to the Welshmen in Parma in Round 5.

The teams:

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Tom Grabham, 13 Jonathan Spratt, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Hanno Dirksen, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Tom Habberfield, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Justin Tipuric (c), 6 James King, 5 Tyler Ardron, 4 Lloyd Peers, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Ryan Bevington
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Dan Lydiate, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Ben John

Zebre: 15 Guglielmo Palazzani, 14 Dion Berryman, 13 Mirco Bergamasco, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Giulio Toniolatti, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Filippo Cristiano, 6 Valerio Bernabò, 5 Marco Bortolami (c), 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Luca Redolfini, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Andrea De Marchi
Replacements: 16 Andrea Manici, 17 Luciano Leibson, 18 Lorenzo Romano, 19 Jacopo Sarto, 20 Filippo Ferrarini, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Matteo Pratichetti, 23 Michele Visentin   

Date: Saturday, March 28
Venue: Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Kickoff: 19:15 GMT
Referee: George Clancy
Assistant Referees: Neil Hennessy, Jonathan Hardy
TMO: Gareth Simmonds

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