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Preview: Connacht v Zebre

28th February 2013 12:20

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SKY_MOBILE Dan Parks - Connacht

Dan Parks: Back at 10 for Connacht

Connacht boss Eric Elwood has made three changes to his starting Xv for Friday's clash with Zebre at the Sportsground in Galway.

Robbie Henshaw, who was on international duty last week, is named at full-back for his 21st Connacht appearance.

27-year-old Brian Murphy, who made his Connacht debut in Cardiff last week, will start again at inside centre, in a partnership with fellow Galway native Eoin Griffin.

Gavin Duffy is named on the wing, replacing Fetu'u Vainikolo who moves to the bench.

Dan Parks was forced to withdraw late from last week's fixture due to a niggling hamstring injury. He returns to fly-half duties tomorrow night.

There is just one change up front with Mick Kearney replacing Michael Swift in the second row.

Swift sustained a knee injury during training earlier in the week. Connacht's highest capped player is waiting on scan results to determine the severity of the injury.

Meanwhile, Zebre boss Christian Gajan has rung the changes to his side after last weekend's narrow 14-13 defeat to the Dragons in Parma.

Amongst the backs, Italian internationals Paolo Buso and Gonzalo Garcia replace Alberto Chiesa and Samuele Pace respectively.

While Buso is a straight swap for Chiesa at fly-half, Matteo Pratichetti moves out one position to outside centre in place of Pace while Garcia will wear the number 12 jersey which he (Pratichetti) wore against the Welsh region.

In the forwards, Josh Sole is switched from blindside flank to lock, in place of Michael van Vuuren, while Mauro Bergamasco takes over on the side of the scrum.

There is also a new front-row with David Ryan and Andrea de Marchi taking over from Luca Redolfini and Matias Aguero, as the first-choice props, while Andrea Mancini replaces Carlo Festuccia at hooker.

Form: Connacht have won three of their last four games in the PRO12, whilst the Irishmen have been victorious in their last three fixtures at the Sportsground in all competitions. Connacht have won their last five matches against Italian opponents in all tournaments.Zebre recorded their second loss by the narrowest of margins in being defeated 13-14 by Newport Gwent Dragons in Parma on Sunday - it was the fifth occasion in the PRO12 that Zebre have been leading inside the final quarter of a game only to eventually lose the match.The two sides have met on three occasions this season - once in the PRO12 and twice in the Heineken Cup - with Connacht victorious every time. Zebre lost 20-25 on their only previous visit to the Sportsground on January 18.

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Brian Murphy, 11 Gavin Duffy (c), 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Andrew Browne, 4 Mick Kearney, 3 Nathan White, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 TJ Anderson, 20 George Naoupu, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Fetu'u Vainikolo.

Zebre: tbc

Date: Friday, 1 March
Venue: The Sportsground, Galway
Kick-off: 19:45
Referee: Neil Hennessy (Wales)
Assistant referees: Michael Black (Ireland), Ed Kenny (both Ireland)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)

  • Connacht Fixtures
Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 26
Glasgow vs Connacht19:35
Friday , October 3
Connacht vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Saturday , October 11
Benetton Treviso vs ConnachtTBC
Friday , October 31
Ospreys vs Connacht19:35
Friday , November 21
Connacht vs Zebre19:35
Saturday , November 29
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Saturday , October 18
Connacht vs La Rochelle17:00
Saturday , October 25
Exeter vs Connacht15:00
Saturday , December 6
Connacht vs BayonneTBC
Saturday , December 13
Bayonne vs ConnachtTBC
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
  • Connacht Results
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 19
Connacht 10 - 9 LeinsterConnacht vs Leinster Report
Friday , September 12
Edinburgh 13 - 14 ConnachtEdinburgh vs Connacht Report
Saturday , September 6
Connacht 16 - 11 Newport Gwent D'gonsConnacht vs Newport Gwent D
More Guinness PRO12 results
  • Table
Pool 3
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Toulouse623
2Saracens620
3Connacht613
4Zebre60