Planet Rugby

Preview: Connacht v Zebre

17th January 2013 07:50

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Zebre: Chasing first win

Connacht and Zebre will be playing for pride when the two teams go head to head in Friday's Heineken Cup clash at the Sportsground.

Both outfits cannot qualify for the Heineken Cup or Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals, though will be looking to end their European campaign on a high.

Zebre are still looking for their first victory in all comptetitions and will be determined to come away with a win from Galway.

However, Connacht - playing in only their second season in European rugby's premier tournament - will be favourites at home, as the Irish province go in search of their third win of the tournament.

The last time these two sides met, Connacht edged the Italians 19-10 in the opening game.

Connacht have made three personnel changes to the starting XV following last week's defeat to pool leaders Harlequins.

Fly-half Dan Parks, who missed last week's outing due to injury, returns to the fray tomorrow night, joining Kieran Marmion in the half back pairing.

There are no further changes to the back line with Robbie Henshaw, who today received a call-up to the extended Ireland squad, named at full back. Also called up to train with the national squad next week was Dave McSharry who starts at number 13 in the centre partnership with Eoin Griffin.

Tiernan O'Halloran, who is set to earn his 50th cap for the province, starts on the right wing while Fetu'u Vainikolo is named at number 11.

Up front, Denis Buckley, who is rested this week due to injury, makes way for Brett Wilkinson at Loosehead Prop.

Eoin McKeon has failed to shake off the ankle injury he picked up last weekend. And with George Naoupu still side-lined, Andrew Browne will move to the Number 8 position while Mick Kearney is named at Blindside Flanker.

On the bench, forwards JP Cooney and Dave Gannon, who were on B&I Cup duty last week, join the 23-man squad. Danie Poolman, on his recovery from injury, joins Paul O'Donohoe and Miah Nikora in the replacement backs.

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Andrew Browne, 7 Johnny O'Connor, 6 Mick Kearney, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Nathan White, 2 Jason Harris Wright,1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements:16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 JP Cooney, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 Dave Gannon, 20 Eoghan Grace, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Danie Poolman

Zebre: 15 Tito Tebaldi, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Roberto Quartaroli, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Ruggero Trevisan, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Alberto Chillon, 8 Filippo Ferrarini, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Emiliano Caffini, 5 Josh Sole, 4 Mike Van Vuren, 3 Luca Redolfini, 2 Davide Giazzon, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 David Ryan, 19 Nicola Belardo, 20 Andrea Manici, 21 Luca Martinelli, 22 Alberto Chiesa, 23 Samuele Pace.

Date: Friday, 18 January
Venue: The Sportsground
Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Jean-Luc Rebollal (France), Cyril Lafon (France)
Television match official: Daniel Irazoqui (France)

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