Preview: Zebre v Ulster

Date published: April 15 2016

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Tommy Bowe returns for Ulster when they travel to Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi to face basement dwellers Zebre in the PRO12 in Parma on Saturday. 

Zebre head coach Gianluca Guidi makes four changes to the squad that will face Ulster in Parma.

Matteo Pratichetti shifts to inside centre which sees Giulio Bisegni pairing up with Pratichetti in the midfield, replacing Gonzalo Garcia.

South African Jean Cook comes in for Emiliano Caffini with Gideon Koegelenberg and Federico Ruzza making up the back row. Caffini is named amongst the reserves.

Marco Bortolami drops to the bench and makes way for Valerio Bernabò in the forwards. 

The 35-year-old lock pairs up with Quintin Geldenhuys in the second row, with the latter being named this week's captain.

Pietro Ceccarelli pairs up with Oliviero Fabiani and Andrea Lovotti in the front row, Ceccarelli replaces Dario Chistolini, who is named on the bench.

Meanwhile Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss has made a number of changes to his side that will travel to Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi. 

Tommy Bowe will play his first match of the season for Ulster after returning from a knee injury sustained while on World Cup duty for Ireland.

Andrew Trimble was unable to travel after picking up an illness, so Bowe is selected in his place. He is joined in the back three by Craig Gilroy and Jared Payne.

Stuart Olding comes into the backline at inside centre in place of Stuart McCloskey, who is unavailable due to a shoulder injury. He will be partnered in midfield by Luke Marshall, while Ruan Pienaar and Paddy Jackson will pair up for the half-back combination.

Franco van der Merwe will make his 50th appearance for the club, a considerable feat given that he is in just his second season with Ulster. Pete Browne is named as van der Merwe's second row partner.

Rory Best will captain the side from hooker, with Callum Black and Ricky Lutton continuing alongside him in the front row. 

Sean Reidy, Iain Henderson and Roger Wilson form the back row trio as Nick Williams continues to be ruled out by a shoulder injury.

Rob Herring, Kyle McCall, Andy Warwick, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Paul Marshall, Darren Cave and Rory Scholes are all named amongst the replacements.

Form: Zebre are without a win in the Guinness PRO12 since beating Benetton Treviso 18-8 at Stadio Monigo on 3 January. Zebre's only previous victory over an Irish province came against Ulster in Parma in September 2014. Ulster' last four Guinness PRO12 encounters have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst their only away victory in the competition in 2016 came on a trip to Treviso in January. The two sides have met on seven previous occasions with Zebre's only victory being 13-6 at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in round 4 last season.

The teams:

Zebre: 15 Kayle Van Zyl, 14 Dion Berryman, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani, 8 Gideon Koegelenberg, 7 Federico Ruzza, 6 Jean Cook, 5 Valerio Bernabò, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys (c), 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Bruno Postiglioni, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Marco Bortolami, 20 Emiliano Caffini, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Ulrich Beyers, 23 Tommaso Boni

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Pete Browne, 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 Rory Best, 1 Callum Black
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Kyle McCall, 18 Andrew Warwick, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 Chris Henry, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Darren Cave, 23 Rory Scholes

Date: Saturday, April 16
Venue: Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Kick-off: 17:00 local (16:00 BST, 15:00 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Claudio Blessano (Italy), Andrea Spadoni (Italy)
TMO: Carlo Damasco (Italy)

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