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Preview: Edinburgh v Zebre

12th September 2012 16:29

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Daniel Halangahu

Zebre debut: Daniel Halangahu

Former Waratahs playmaker Daniel Halangahu will make his debut for Zebre in Friday's PRO12 clash with Edinburgh at Murrayfield.

Director of Rugby Christian Gajan has made several changes to the starting XV that lost to Connacht last week.

Centre Matteo Pratichetti wins his first ever cap in a Zebre shirt alongside Australian utility back Halangahu in an all-new midfield.

Alberto Chiesa is handed the fly-half role ahead of Luciano Orquera while another Italian international Tito Tebaldi features at scrum-half.

On the bench, full-back Paolo Buso and young hooker Andrea Manici are also set for debuts.

Italian international lock Quintin Geldenhuys will be Zebre's skipper for the game in the place of the injured Gonzalo Garcia.

Veteran international second-rower Marco Bortolami is also on the injury list.

"This week we worked a lot on the effectiveness of our game: in this is what we're missing,"said Gajan.

"In the first two games we lost too many balls that we had cleverly obtained. For this game we decided to select players who have played less, in order to grow our youngsters"

Backs coach Alessandro Troncon said this week's challenge is more difficult than last Friday.

"Edinburgh has reached the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup last season, while Italian teams never made it even to the quarters," said Troncon.

"It will therefore be tough and we need all the enthusiasm possible. But I am happy with what I saw in Parma against Connacht".

Meanwhile, Edinburgh have made five changes to the side that started against Cardiff Blues, as inside-centre Matt Scott returns for his first match of the new campaign.

In an astonishing 2011/12 season, Scott went from first year professional to Scotland regular, getting his first taste of the international arena in the 2012 Six Nations, and starting every match of the Scotland's three-Test June triumph in Australasia.

Having completed a near 12-month spell of competitive action, the strength, skills and conditioning teams at Murrayfield have taken extra time to work with the 21-year-old to ensure he has had the benefit of rest, recovery and a full pre-season, before his refreshed return to action this Friday.

The remaining changes come in the pack, with props John Yapp and Willem Nel trading places with Allan Jacobsen and Geoff Cross, who start on the bench, while Scotland and Fiji back-rows Ross Rennie and Netani Talei replace Roddy Grant and the injured David Denton (thigh).

Also returning to the squad is Tom Brown, who continues his comeback from a hamstring strain as replacement.

Form: Edinburgh have won two of their last three games in the RaboDirect PRO12, however the Scotsmen lost their most recent game at Murrayfield to Munster. Edinburgh have won their last three encounters with Italian opponents and have never been defeated at home by a visiting team from Italy. Zebre, the RaboDirect PRO12's newest team, are trying to find their feet in the competition and have so far slipped to a pair of defeats at the hands of Newport Gwent Dragons and Connacht. The two teams have never met before.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Greig Laidlaw (capt), 9 Richie Rees, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Ross Rennie, 6 Stuart McInally, 5 Sean Cox, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Andy Titterrell, 17 Allan Jacobsen, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Perry Parker, 20 Dimitri Basilaia, 21 Chris Leck, 22 John Houston, 23 Tom Brown.

Zebre: 15 Sinoti Sinoti, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Matteo Pratichetti, 12 Daniel Halangahu, 11 Ruggero Trevisan, 10 Alberto Chiesa, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Andries van Schalkwyk, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Emiliano Caffini, 5 Josh Sole, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Luciano Leibson, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Andrea De Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Andrea Manici, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Luca Redolfini, 19 Filippo Cazzola, 20 Filippo Ferrarini, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Paolo Buso, 23 Alberto Benettin.

Date: Friday, September 14
Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 19.30 BST (18.30 GMT
Referee: Giuseppe Vivarini (FIR)

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PosTeamPPts
1Toulouse623
2Saracens620
3Connacht613
4Zebre60