Planet Rugby

Preview: Ospreys v Zebre

22nd November 2013 09:26

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Matthew Morgan Ospreys

Playmaker: Matthew Morgan

Ospreys forwards coach Chris Gibbs expects a tough challenge from Zebre, who visit the Liberty Stadium on Pro12 duty on Saturday.

"We've learnt a lot from the LV=Cup, it's been a good opportunity to look at the younger players and although we didn't get the results we got a chance to see them and who we have coming through as players," said Gibbs.

"Although Zebre haven't had some of the results they would have wanted they are a very competitive side. We have to control our set piece play and make sure we shut them down".

Meanwhile, with Italy in action against Argentina this weekend, Zebre have handed opportunities to a number of fringe players for the clash at the Liberty Stadium.

The back three comprises Dion Berryman, David Odiete, and Giulio Toniolatti, while Paul Buso comes into the side at fly-half.

Veteran loosehead Salvatore Perugini retains the number one jersey, but is joined in the front-row by Andrea Handles and David Ryan this week.

Augustin Knights makes his Pro12 debut in the second-row alongside Michael van Vuytens.

Form: Ospreys have won just one of their last three RaboDirect PRO12 matches: 40-17 at home to the Dragons in Round 6. Italian teams have visited Liberty Stadium on eleven previous occasions in all tournaments - all have been defeated. Zebre have already a victory and a draw this season with both of those results coming against Welsh opponents, beating the Blues at the Arms Park and tying with the Scarlets in Parma. The two teams have met just twice before with Ospreys gaining a bonus point victory in Parma and Zebre losing by the narrowest of margins on their only previous visit to Liberty Stadium in January.

The teams:

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Jonathan Spratt (c), 12 Ben John, 11 Jeff Hassler, 10 Matthew Morgan, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Tyler Ardron, 5 James King, 4 Lloyd Peers, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Duncan Jones
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dwyer, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Dan Suter, 19 Graham Knoop, 20 Arthur Ellis, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Tom Issacs

Zebre: 15 Dion Berryman, 14 David Odiete, 13 Roberto Quartaroli, 12 Gonzalo Garcia (c), 11 Giulio Toniolatti, 10 Paul Buso, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Andries van Schalkwyk, 6 Philip Christian, 5 Michael van Vuren, 4 Augustin Knights, 3 David Ryan, 2 Andrea Handles, 1 Salvatore Perugini
Replacements: 16 Thomas D'Apex, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Luciano Leibson, 19 Emiliano Caffini, 20 Nicola Cattina, 21 William Palazzani, 22 Alberto Chillon, 23 Henry Ceccato

Date: Saturday, November 23
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Venue: Liberty Stadium
Referee: Leo Colgan (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Martyn Lewis (Wales), Craig Evans (Wales)

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