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Preview: Zebre v Leinster

19th April 2013 09:21

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Jonny Sexton Leinster fly half 2012

Jonny Sexton: Starts for Leinster

Brian O'Driscoll leads an experienced Leinster side in Sunday's clash against Zebre in Reggio Emilia as they aim to secure a home play-off berth.

O'Driscoll partners Andrew Goodman at centre, with Ireland international Fergus McFadden named on the right wing and in a back three which also includes Fionn Carr and Isa Nacewa.

The province are also boosted by the return of Jonathan Sexton from injury and he will line out in Blue for the first time since the victory over Exeter Chiefs in January to earn his 105th Leinster cap. Sexton is 61 points away from the 1,000 point mark in all competitions for the province.

He lines up at fly-half alongside John Cooney in the starting line up.In the pack, Kevin McLaughlin forms an abrasive back-row unit alongside number eight Rhys Ruddock and Dominic Ryan.

Tom Denton locks down alongside Devin Toner at second row, while loose-head prop Jack McGrath will make his 33rd appearance in a front row which also features Richardt Strauss and Michael Bent.

Academy fly-half Cathal Marsh is in line to make his debut for the province should he feature off the bench.

Meanwhile, Zebre boss Christian Gajan has made three changes, including a positional switch, to his run-on side that lost to Cardiff Blues last weekend.

Matteo Pratichetti replaces Gonzalo Garcia in the only change to the back-line.

Amongst the forwards, Josh Sole takes over from Andries van Schalkwyk at number eight after doing duty on the blindside flank against Cardiff.

Filippo Ferrarini will wear the number six jersey for this match while Mauro Bergamasco will play at openside flanker.

Form: This game has been moved to the Stadio Citta del Tricolore in Reggio Emilia to raise funds for victims of earthquake that hit the region last year. The stadium will become the 37th venue to host a RaboDirect PRO12 match. Just two other major rugby games have been played at the arena, with Pacific Islanders beating Italy there in November 2008 and Ospreys defeating Viadana in the European Cup a year later. Leinster's only loss in their last twelve fixtures in all competitions was 18-22 to Ulster at the RDS in the PRO12 on 30th March, and are unbeaten on the road in 2013. The Leinstermen have won their last ten games against Italian opponents in the PRO102 since their 13-29 reversal in Treviso in September 2010. Leinster won 37-7 when the two sides met at the RDS in round 10.

The teams:

Zebre: 15 Ruggero Trevisan, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Giovanbattista Venditti, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Alberto Chillon, 8 Josh Sole, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Filippo Ferrarini, 5 Marco Bortolami (c), 4 Michael Van Vuren, 3 Luciano Leibson, 2 Andrea Manici, 1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Salvatore Perugini, 19 Emiliano Caffini, 20 Filippo Cristiano, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Luciano Orquera, 23 David Odiete.

Leinster: 15 Isa Nacewa, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brian O'Driscoll (c), 12 Andrew Goodman, 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 John Cooney, 8 Rhys Ruddock, 7 Dominic Ryan, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Tom Denton, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Jack O'Connell, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Quinn Roux, 20 Leo Auva'a, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Cathal Marsh, 23 Andrew Conway.

Date: Sunday, April 21
Kick-off: 16:00 local (15:00 BST)
Venue: Stadio del Tricolore
Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Stefano Pennč (Italy), Elia Rizzo (Italy)
Television match official: Alan Falzone (Italy)
Citing Commissioner: Maurizio Vancini (Italy)

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Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 28
Cardiff Blues vs Treviso19:35
Munster vs Ulster19:35
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs Edinburgh15:00
Leinster vs Ospreys17:15
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow Warriors vs Dragons16:00
Friday , December 19
Edinburgh vs Benetton Treviso19:35
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Leinster vs Connacht19:35
Saturday , December 20
Glasgow vs Munster14:40
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Sunday , November 23
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
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Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
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Cardiff Blues 24 - 28 Munster
Scarlets 28 - 13 Zebre
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Leinster 33 - 8 Edinburgh
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