Preview: Zebre v Ulster

Date published: September 26 2014

Ulster have rotated their line-up for Saturday’s trip to face Zebre at Stadio XXV Aprile, with Roger Wilson leading the team from the blindside flank.

There are ten changes to the team that beat Cardiff Blues 26-9 and Craig Gilroy is one of seven Ireland internationals in the side. He returns to the starting XV at full-back and is joined in the back three by Tommy Bowe, who switches to the right wing, and Michael Allen starts on the left.

Darren Cave maintains his place at outside centre and is joined in midfield by Stuart McCloskey, who makes his first start of the PRO12 campaign.

Paddy Jackson, who scored fourteen points in the victory over the Blues, starts at fly-half and is partnered by Michael Heaney in the half-backs.

Up front, there is a whole new front-row with Callum Black named at loosehead, Rob Herring selected at hooker and Declan Fitzpatrick, who has recovered from injury, starting at tighthead prop.

Franco van der Merwe is joined by Neil McComb who starts his first match of the season.

In the back-row, ex Lansdowne player, Clive Ross, starts his first competitive match for the Province and is selected at openside, Wilson captains and Nick Williams starts at eight.

Rory Best, Ruaidhri Murphy, Wiehahn Herbst, Lewis Stevenson and Mike McComish are named on the bench as are backs Paul Marshall, Ian Humphreys and Andrew Trimble.

Meanwhile, Zebre return to their home patch after going down 31-5 at Munster last week.

Giulio Toniolatti moves from left to right wing to accommodate the return of Leonardo Sarto, with David Odiete dropping out of the matchday 23. The rest of the backline is unchanged.

Up front loosehead Matias Aguero and tighthead prop Dario Chistolini are handed starting berths while the locks and back-row remain the same from their Limerick fixture.

Form: Zebre have slipped to four straight defeats in the Guinness PRO12 since their 30-27 victory at home to Ospreys in May. Zebre are yet to defeat an Irish province in their 22 previous encounters. Ulster are one of four unbeaten sides in the PRO12 this season having gained victories over Zebre and Cardiff Blues in the last two rounds added to a draw with Scarlets in round 1. The Ulstermen have not been defeated by an Italian opponent since Treviso visited Belfast in October 2011. Ulster have already beaten Zebre this season, 33-13 at Kingspan Stadium in round 2.

The teams:

Zebre: 15 Hendrik Daniller, 14 Giulio Toniolatti, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Kelly Haimona, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Edoardo Padovani, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Filippo Cristiano, 6 Mauro Bergamasco, 5 George Biagi, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys (capt), 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Andrea Manici, 1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Andrea Lovotti, 18 Luciano Leibson, 19 Andries Ferreira, 20 Valerio Bernab