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Preview: Zebre v Connacht

05th September 2012 13:53

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Mauro Bergamasco training

Zebre debut: Mauro Bergamasco

Zebre will be making their all-time home debut in the PRO12 at Parma's XXV Aprile Stadium when the tournament newcomers host Connacht on Friday.

Stadio XXV Aprile becomes the 36th different ground, and the third in Italy, to host a game in the history of this competition.

French-born coach Christian Gajan has made four changes in the starting line-up following the defeat suffered in Newport in the first round.

21-year-old Alberto Benettin is making his debut for the new Italian franchise starting at outside centre replacing injured team-mate Roberto Quartaroli, while Emerging Italy scrum-half Alberto Chillon wins his first start in place of Tito Tebaldi.

Among the forwards, veteran flanker Mauro Bergamasco - recovered from a muscle injury suffered during summer friendlies - makes his first start for Zebre replacing Nicola Cattina, while former italian international Josh Sole starts as lock in place of Caffini who drops to the bench.

Tighthead prop David Ryan will once again lock horns with Italian internationals Salvatore Perugini and Carlo Festuccia up front.

Meanwhile, Connacht have named an unchanged starting XV.

There are two changes on the bench with Nathan White taking the place of Finlay Bealham and Frank Murphy stepping in for Dave Moore.

Connacht will be looking to convert last week's possession and opportunities into points this week. Despite crossing the tryline twice in the first half and hour, handling errors denied the home side a try which would have made all the difference playing into the strong wind.

Form: The new Italian franchise, lost 6-37 to the Dragons at Rodney Parade on their debut in RaboDirect PRO12 last Friday. Connacht have lost their last two matches in the competition to Glasgow Warriors and Cardiff Blues, whilst their only victory on the road since round one last season was 27-19 at the Dragons on 30 March. The Irishmen have won just one previous RaboDirect PRO12 game in Italy: 11-9 at Treviso on 3 September 2011. The two sides have never met before.

The teams:

Zebre: 15 Sinoti Sinoti, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Alberto Benettin, 12 Gonzalo Garcia (c), 11 Samuele Pace, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Alberto Chillon , 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Filippo Cristiano, 5 Josh Sole, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 David Ryan, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Andrea De Marchie, 18 Luca Redolfini, 19 Emiliano Caffini, 20 Nicola Belardo, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Alberto Chiesa, 23 Ruggero Trevisan.

Connacht:15 Gavin Duffy (c), 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Mata Fifita, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Miah Nikora, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Johnny O'Connor, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Ronan Loughney, 2 Ethienne Reynecke, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Rodney Ah You, 18 Nathan White, 19 Dave Gannon, 20 Willie Faloon, 21 Frank Murphy, 22 Matthew Jarvis, 23 Robbie Henshaw.

Date: Friday, 7 September
Venue: XXV Aprile Stadium, Parma
Kick-off: 19:05 (18:05 BST)
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU, 2nd competition game)
Assistant Referees: Stefano Roscini, Elia Rizzo (both FIR)
TMO: Carlo Damasco (FIR)

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3Connacht613
4Zebre60