Preview: Zebre v Scarlets

Date published: October 24 2013

Zebre welcome the Scarlets to Stadio XXV Aprile in Parma on Friday, returning to PRO12 duty after two dismal Heineken Cup rounds.

Zebre are to welcome the Scarlets to Stadio XXV Aprile in Parma on Friday, returning to RaboDirect PRO12 duty after two poor Heineken Cup rounds.

The Italian outfit welcome back veteran prop Salvatore Perugini, who joins David Giazzon and Dario Chistolini in the front-row. Michael Van Vuren makes his second start of the season at second-row, partnering captain Marco Bortolami.

Tommaso Iannone gets the nod at fly-half behind experienced All Black nine Brendon Leonard, and with fellow Kiwi Dion Berryman selected at 11.

Elsewhere, Fijian Kameli Ratuvou starts outside centre alongside Italian international Gonzalo Garcia with Ruggero Trevisan named at full-back.

Meanwhile, the Scarlets will seek to build on their Heineken Cup form as they head south to Parma.

The Welshmen have opted to move their highly successful half-back duo to the bench for this weekend's clash after significant game time in Europe. Rhys Priestland is back to his best form managing the Scarlets game including putting 16 points on the board from his boot last weekend against Racing Metro.

Gareth Davies comes back from injury to start at nine, with Steve Shingler given the 10 jersey and ahead of an important home fixture against Ulster next weekend at Parc y Scarlets when the region's international group will be with Wales.

It's a first opportunity in Scarlets jersey for new addition 130kg Romanian international Prop Horatiu Pungea. The 27-year-old Pungea has been a key member of the Romanian team since making his debut in November 2012. Pungea has been added to the squad after Deacon Manu suffered a fractured arm which will sideline him for three months.

“As a Scarlets team, we've worked hard this season in training and have a group of very committed and talented players who really want to show what Scarlets rugby is all about. That ambition came together in the Heineken Cup and now we have to bring that level of intensity, hunger and consistency to our league form,” attack coach Mark Jones told the Scarlets website.

“We know that Zebre have been building as a team and are no push-overs and they have a decent try scoring record in this competition; so we know we have a lot to do over there and ensure our execution is the right level.”

Form: Zebre have already won in Wales this season, having beaten Cardiff Blues at The Arms Park 30-25 in round 3. Scarlets only defeat in their last four matches in all competitions was 12-17 at the hands of Glasgow Warriors in the RaboDirect PRO12 on 5th October. Scarlets have won three of their last four games against Italian opponents but have lost on two of their last four visits to Italy. Scarlets won both encounters with Zebre last season by a margin of four match points to nil, however both sides managed to accumulate three tries apiece over the two games.

The teams:

Zebre: 15 Ruggero Trevisan, 14 Leonardo Tailor, 13 Kameli Ratuvou, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Dion Berryman, 10 Tommaso Iannone, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Andries van Schalkwyk, 6 Mauro Bergamasco, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Michael Van Vuren, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 David Giazzon, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Andre Handles, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Luciano Leibson, 19 Emiliano Caffini, 20 Philip Christian, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Luciano Orquera, 23 David Odiete.

Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Nick Reynolds, 13 Jon Davies (capt), 12 Scott Williams, 11 Kristian Phillips, 10 Steve Shingler, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Josh Turnbull, 7 John Barclay, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Jo Snyman, 4 George Earle, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Horatiu Pungea, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Sione Timani, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Gareth Maule.

Date: Friday 25th October
Kick-off: 19:30 (local), 18:30 (BST)
Venue: Stadio XXV Aprile
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Stefano Penne, Stefano Roscini (both Italy)
TMO: Carlo Damasco (Italy)