Preview: Zebre v Leinster

Date published: November 4 2016

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The Zebre coaching staff have announced their side to clash with Leinster on Saturday at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

The home side have made only one change to their starting XV that beat Edinburgh at Murrayfield with Matteo Pratichetti coming into the starting line-up at 13, replacing Tommaso Boni after Boni was injured.

Meanwhile, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has made seven changes in total from the side that beat Connacht last week. Ireland Sevens captain Tom Daly makes his Leinster debut and 20-year-old loosehead prop Andrew Porter making his first start in the number one jersey.

Isa Nacewa captains the side from full-back with try scorers from last weekend, Adam Byrne and Barry Daly, continuing on the right and left wing respectively.

Noel Reid is again selected at inside centre for his seventh start of the season, with 23-year-old Tom Daly wearing a Leinster senior jersey for the first time outside him.

Jamison Gibson-Park continues at scrum-half with Leinster Academy fly-half Ross Byrne partnering him from the start, having come off the bench against Connacht last weekend.

Andrew Porter, making his first start, will be joined in the front-row by experienced international duo Richardt Strauss at hooker and Michael Bent at tighthead. Strauss has recovered from knee surgery to make his first senior appearance of the season having played with the Leinster 'A' team the last two weekends.

Mike McCarthy comes into the second-row from the start this weekend and will be joined by former Maori All Black Hayden Triggs, for his second appearance of the season.

It's as you were in the back-row with last week's Man of the Match Dan Leavy again selected at blindside flanker, with Sean O'Brien at openside and Jack Conan selected at number eight.

Cullen has gone with six forwards and two backs on his bench with Rhys Ruddock making a welcome return from a calf injury and with Hugo Keenan in line to make his Leinster debut should he be introduced. Keenan has played with Leinster 'A' in the first two rounds of the British & Irish Cup on the right wing but tomorrow will be his first senior match day involvement.

Form: Zebre opened their winning account this season with a 19-14 success over Edinburgh at Murrayfield last Friday, but have not recorded successive victories in the Championship since beating Treviso home and away over Christmas and New Year last season. Leinster’s only defeat in the first seven rounds of the PRO12 was 25-33 at Glasgow on 10 September. The Leinstermen have lost just once to an Italian opponent in the history of the PRO12: 13-29 in Treviso in their very first such fixture in September 2010. Leinster have won all eight previous encounters with Zebre, seven with a try bonus point, whilst not allowing Zebre to record a single league point.

The teams:

Zebre: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Giulio Bisegni, 13 Matteo Pratichetti, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Charles Reed, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Maxime Mbanda, 5 George Biagi, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Tommaso D'Apice, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Bruno Postiglioni, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Derick Minnie, 21 William Palazzani, 22 Carlo Engelbrecht, 23 Simone Toys

Leinster: 15 Isa Nacewa, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Tom Daly, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Barry Daly, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Dan Leavy, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Mike McCarthy, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Andrew Porter
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Dominic Ryan, 23 Hugo Keenan

Date: Saturday, 5 November
Venue: Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Kick-off: 17:05 local (16:05 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Simon Rees (Wales), Filippo Bertelli (Italy)
TMO: Stefano Marrama (Italy)

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