Preview: Zebre v Leinster

Date published: February 26 2016

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Leinster Head Coach Leo Cullen has made eight changes to his starting XV for Sunday's PRO12 clash with Zebre at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

Peter Dooley comes in at loosehead prop to start his third game of the season, with James Tracy coming in at hooker and Tadhg Furlong continuing at tighthead.

Ross Molony comes back into the second row to partner Mick Kearney who made his debut against Cardiff last time out.

There are two further changes in the back row with Dominic Ryan starting at blindside flanker to win his 99th cap in blue, while Dan Leavy starts at openside for his eighth game of the season. Last weekend's Man of the Match, Jack Conan, will once again pack down at number eight.

Zane Kirchner starts at full-back once again with Adam Byrne on the left wing. Byrne scored his first Leinster try against Zebre two weeks ago in the RDS. 

Isa Nacewa, who scored Leinster's only try last weekend in the 14-13 away win over Cardiff, will captain the team from the right wing.

Luke McGrath and Cathal Marsh come in to the halfbacks with Ben Te'o and Garry Ringrose once again selected in the midfield.

Meanwhile, Zebre coach Gianluca Guidi has rung the changes to his run-on side after last weekend's heavy defeat against Connacht.

Guidi has made eight changes in all with  Tommaso Boni replacing Giulio Bisegni at outside with Ian McKinley taking over from Kelly Haimona, who is on Test duty with Italy, at fly-half and and Fabio Semenzatocoming in for Luke Burgess at scrum-half.

In the pack, Johan Meyer moves from openside flank to number eight while Federico Ruzza and Jacopo Sarto join him in the back row. In the second row, Quintin Geldenhuys replaces Gideon Koegelenberg while tighthead prop Guillermo Roan comes in for Dario Chistolini in the front row.

Form: Zebre have slipped to three successive defeats in the Guinness PRO12 but at least gained their first try bonus point since October during the loss to Connacht on Saturday. Zebre's record against Irish provinces is won one, lost 31. Leinster are the best team in the Guinness PRO12 on current form having picked up 21 league points from their last six matches. Their only reversal in the last ten rounds was 13-23 at Newport Gwent Dragons on 29 January. The two sides have met on seven previous occasions with Leinster easily winning all the games. Zebre have scored just one try and only 11 points in their last four encounters with the Irishmen.

The teams:

Zebre: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Giulio Toniolatti, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Kayle Van Zyl, 10 Ian McKinley, 9 Fabio Semenzato, 8 Johan Meyer, 7 Federico Ruzza, 6 Jacopo Sarto, 5 Marco Bortolami (c), 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Guillermo Roan, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Bruno Postiglioni
Replacements: 16 Gabriele Morelli, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Emiliano Caffini, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Maicol Azzolini, 23 Ulrich Beyers

Leinster: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Ben Te'o, 11 Isa Nacewa (c), 10 Cathal Marsh, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Dan Leavy, 6 Dominic Ryan, 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 James Tracy, 1 Peter Dooley
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Cian Kelleher

Date: Sunday, February 28
Venue: Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Kick-off: 16:00 local (15:00 GMT)
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Matteo Liperini (Italy), Ricardo Angelucci (Italy)
Television match official: Stefano Penne (Italy)

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