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 , September 19
Gloucester vs ExeterGloucester vs Exeter Preview
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London Welsh14:00
London Irish vs Saracens15:00
Harlequins vs Wasps15:00
Bath vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs Northampton14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 19
Munster vs ZebreMunster vs Zebre Preview
Cardiff Blues vs UlsterCardiff Blues vs Ulster Preview
Connacht vs LeinsterConnacht vs Leinster Preview
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Glasgow14:40
Scarlets vs Benetton Treviso18:00
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs EdinburghOspreys vs Edinburgh Preview
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 19
Brive vs ToulonBrive vs Toulon Preview
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse14:45
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Clermont Auvergne vs Lyon18:30
Castres vs Oyonnax18:30
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Montpellier vs Stade Francais20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 19
Lions vs PumasLions vs Pumas Preview
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs Sharks17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Friday , September 19
Counties Manukau vs CanterburyCounties Manukau vs Canterbury Preview
Saturday , September 20
Hawkes Bay vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Thursday , September 18
Northland 20 - 31 TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Report
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 31 - 27 PumasGriquas vs Pumas Report
Lions 35 - 33 Western ProvinceLions vs Western Province Report
Cheetahs 30 - 30 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Bay Of Plenty 12 - 27 AucklandBay Of Plenty vs Auckland Report
Southland 36 - 34 Northland
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 12
Harlequins 0 - 39 SaracensHarlequins vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
2Bath29
3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26