Preview: Treviso v Zebre

Date published: December 22 2016

Treviso boss Kieran Crowley has made a handful of changes for the all-Italian derby this weekend at the Stadio Monigo against Zebre.

Luke McLean returns at full-back with Angelo Esposito on the wing, as Alberto Sgarbi captains the side at inside centre, forming a midfield partnership with Tommaso Benvenuti.

Tito Tebaldi and Tommaso Allan line up at scrum-half and fly-half respectively.

In the pack Robert Barbieri, Dean Budd and Alberto de Marchi are all selected, while on the bench new Italy international scrum-half Giorgio Bronzini has to settle for a spot amongst the replacements, alongside Ian McKinley and Luca Morisi.

Meanwhile, compared to the last challenge held in Toulouse in the Champions Cup there are many changes to the 23 chosen by the Zebre technical staff.

There are many players who return from injures: eight changes in the starting XV along with Federico Ruzza and Giovanbattista Venditti.

There are ten internationals capped by Italy during the November Test matches in the starting squad with six of them back in action after missing the last match; Edoardo Padovani, Tommaso Boni, Giulio Bisegni, Andrea Lovotti, Quintin Geldenhuys and Andries van Schalkwyk.

Form: Treviso have won their last two matches, home and away to Bayonne in the Challenge Cup, but in the PRO12 their only victory in 2016/17 was at home to the Dragons in Round 4. Zebre’s solitary victory in any competition this season was 19-14 against Edinburgh at Murrayfield in Round 6 of the PRO12. Zebre achieved the season’s double over their fiercest rivals last year and overall have won three of the eight previous meeting with Treviso. The only other fellow Italian sides who have won twice at Stadio Monigo in the professional era were Calvisano in 2001 and 2005 and Viadana in 2002 and 2005. 

The teams:

Treviso: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Alberto Sgarbi (c), 11 Luca Sperandio, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Marco Barbini, 7 Abraham Steyn, 6 Robert Barbieri, 5 Dean Budd, 4 Marco Fuser, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Davide Giazzon, 1 Alberto De Marchi
Replacements: 16 Roberto Santamaria, 17 Matteo Zanusso, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Jeff Montauriol, 20 Marco Lazzaroni, 21 Giorgio Bronzini, 22 Ian McKinley, 23 Luca Morisi

Zebre: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 George Biagi (c), 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Tommaso D'Apice, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Bruno Postiglioni, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Valerio Bernabò, 20 Federico Ruzza, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Tommaso Boni, 23 Kayle Van Zyl

Date: Friday, December 23
Venue: Stadio Monigo
Kick-off: 19:35 local (18:35 GMT)
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Emanuele Tomo (Italy), Simone Boaretto (Italy)
TMO: Carlo Damasco (Italy)