Planet Rugby

Preview: Cardiff Blues v Zebre

19th September 2013 11:41

Share:

Leigh Halfpenny Cardiff Blues

Starts: Leigh Halfpenny

Leigh Halfpenny will make his first appearance of the season for Cardiff Blues after being named in the side that will face Zebre on Friday.

Halfpenny, who was named Player of the Series for the Lions after the tour, is one of six changes for Blues for the fixture with the Italian outfit.

Chris Czekaj is called in on the wing while Lewis Jones will make his first start of the season at nine where he is paired with Rhys Patchell.

A new-look pack will see Marc Breeze start at hooker as Matthew Rees is named among the replacements.

Wales international Lou Reed is named in the second-row, with Bradley Davies suspended for two weeks following a league disciplinary hearing in Edinburgh.

Andries Pretorius will captain the team from the back-row where he is joined by Macauley Cook who comes into the team at blindside flanker. Cory Allen and James Down are also named among the replacements.

Cardiff Blues won both encounters with Zebre last season, with the Italians claiming a losing bonus point in Parma in November. However, Director of Rugby Phil Davies admits he has been impressed by Zebre this season and they led table toppers Munster 18-9 at half time in their match last weekend.

"Zebre are a much improved outfit and they have shown in the opening weeks of the season that they are not to be underestimated," said Davies.

"They have recruited strongly with New Zealand international Brendon Leonard at half back and have the likes of Italian international stalwarts Marco Bortolami and Mauro Bergamasco marshalling the team.

"We were impressed with the way Zebre played against Munster last weekend. They also have a massive pack and they will bring real physicality to the contest.

"The team selected to start is primarily the side that finished the game with Connacht. That is because we want to keep continuity and build on the momentum we had at the end of last week's game," he added.

"However, it is also crucial that we give players in the squad opportunities to feature so we can build that depth we need in the squad."

Meanwhile, Zebre have made six changes to their side that will face the Welsh region, with four of those coming in the backline.

Into the team come right wing David Odiete, centres Tommaso Iannone and Matteo Pratichetti and left wing Dion Berryman while Mauro Bergamasco and Dario Chistolini also start at blindside and tighthead respectively.

"The last game against Munster we had a performance drop in the second half," said head coach Andrea Cavinato.

"We believe that it came from a lack of habit of playing at this high pace with such long sequences. We didn't realise points during all our offensive actions, while the Irish side have scored during quite all of their efforts.

"Every Zebre fan must trust in this team and we are confident of seeing continuous improvements."

Form: Cardiff Blues' 21-10 victory at home to Connacht on Friday ended a three game losing streak. The Welshmen are going for a third successive home victory for the first time since they returned to the Arms Park. Cardiff Blues have never lost at home to an Italian side in any competition since the region was formed in 2003. Zebre's last four games have all been against Irish opponents, whilst their most recent fixture with a Welsh Region was when they visited the Arms Park in April and lost 13-28. The Blues won both encounters with Zebre last season, with the Italians claiming a losing bonus point in Parma in November.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Owen Williams, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Chris Czekaj, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Andries Pretorius (c), 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Macauley Cook, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Lou Reed, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Marc Breeze, 1 Taufa'ao Filise.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Benoit Bourrust, 19 James Down, 20 Robin Copeland, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Cory Allen.

Zebre: 15 Ruggero Trevisan, 14 David Odiete, 13 Tommaso Iannone, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Dion Berryman, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Andries van Schalkwyk, 6 Mauro Bergamasco, 5 Marco Bortolami (c), 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Andrea Manici, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D'Apice, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Luca Redolfini, 19 George Biagi, 20 Filippo Ferrarini, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Guglielmo Palazzani, 23 Giovanbattista Venditti.

Date: Friday, September 20
Kick-off: 19:30 BST
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park
Referee: Leo Colgan (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Sean Brickell (Wales), Wayne Davies (Wales)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins vs LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Preview
Saturday , April 19
Exeter vs Sale15:00
Bath vs Worcester15:00
Wasps vs Gloucester15:15
Sunday , April 20
Northampton vs London Irish14:00
Newcastle vs Saracens15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , April 18
Leinster vs Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Glasgow vs UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Preview
Saturday , April 19
Zebre vs Edinburgh14:30
Connacht vs Munster18:15
Sunday , April 20
Cardiff Blues vs Scarlets14:00
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Ospreys16:45
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , April 18
Castres vs MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Preview
Saturday , April 19
Oyonnax vs Toulouse14:55
Perpignan vs Toulon17:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Biarritz vs Brive18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles20:35
More Top 14 fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 18
Hurricanes vs BluesHurricanes vs Blues Preview
Melbourne Rebels vs Western Force19:40
Saturday , April 19
Chiefs vs Crusaders19:35
Waratahs vs Bulls19:00
Sharks vs Cheetahs15:00
Stormers vs Lions17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 13
Saracens 28 - 24 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Irish 40 - 12 NewcastleLondon Irish vs Newcastle Report
Saturday , April 12
Worcester 33 - 38 ExeterWorcester vs Exeter Report
Leicester 27 - 15 WaspsLeicester vs Wasps Report
Gloucester 17 - 18 BathGloucester vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Benetton Treviso 45 - 27 Newport Gwent D'gonsBenetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D
Scarlets 27 - 20 ZebreScarlets vs Zebre Report
Munster 5 - 22 GlasgowMunster vs Glasgow Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 20 - 22 ToulonBordeaux-Begles vs Toulon Report
Toulouse 16 - 9 BriveToulouse vs Brive Report
Grenoble 30 - 36 Montpellier
Perpignan 22 - 12 Oyonnax
Bayonne 24 - 19 Stade Francais
Racing Metro Paris 37 - 7 Biarritz
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 22 - 16 Melbourne RebelsChiefs vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Western Force 28 - 16 WaratahsWestern Force vs Waratahs Report
Lions 12 - 25 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Cheetahs 31 - 52 CrusadersCheetahs vs Crusaders Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 11
Sale Sharks 12 - 27 HarlequinsSale Sharks vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Ulster 58 - 12 ConnachtUlster vs Connacht Report
Edinburgh 22 - 29 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
Ospreys 25 - 19 LeinsterOspreys vs Leinster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Clermont Auvergne 23 - 11 CastresClermont Auvergne vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Highlanders 27 - 20 BullsHighlanders vs Bulls Report
Reds 20 - 23 BrumbiesReds vs Brumbies Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Leicester Tigers1963
4Bath1959
5Harlequins1954