Planet Rugby

Preview: Zebre v Cardiff Blues

28th February 2014 10:11

Share:

SKY_MOBILE Rory Watts-Jones - Cardiff Blues

Returns: Rory Watts-Jones

Flanker Rory Watts-Jones returns to the starting XV as Cardiff Blues travel to Zebre in the RaboDirect PRO12 at Stadio XXV Aprile on Saturday.

Watts-Jones, who recently inked a new long-term deal, is one of three changes to the starting side as the Blues look for a return to winning ways.

Tom Williams is called up at full-back, with Dan Fish moving to the wing, while the other change sees Chris Dicomidis named in the second-row.

Wales international lock Lou Reed could make his comeback after four months ruled out as he is named among the replacements.

Prop Benoit Bourrust, back-row Ellis Jenkins and centre Dafydd Hewitt are also on the bench.

"It's a huge game for us and there is absolutely no hiding away from that fact. It is the last of a four-game stretch when we wanted to climb the table and so only a victory is good enough," said director of rugby Phil Davies.

"The effort from the players over the last few weeks has been great, but there are periods in matches where we drop off our standards.

"We have played teams in the top four in recent weeks and you have to play for 80 minutes. We ran Leinster close for 40 minutes but a few lapses and they were gone. That cost us and we have got to stop that happening.

"This weekend we have got to play for 80 minutes in Italy. If we do that we are starting to create and score more tries so can get the result we all want."

Meanwhile, Zebre will hand a RaboDirect PRO12 debut to young South African flanker Abraham Steyn, who joins Samuela Vunisa and Filippo Ferrarini in Saturday's back-row.

Kelli Haimona starts at fly-half alongside Brendon Leonard while on the bench there is Italy international Luciano Orquera.

Zebre are without Mauro Bergamasco, Paolo Buso, Nicola Cattina, Filippo Cristiano, Tommaso D'Apice, Andrea Manici, Matteo Pratichetti, Roberto Quartaroli and Luca Redolfini for this match.

Form: Zebre have the opportunity to achieve their first season's double over any opponent in the RaboDirect PRO12, having beaten the Blues 30-25 at the Arms Park in round 3. Cardiff Blues have won just one of their last eight matches in the PRO12: 21-13 at home to the Dragons on New Year's Day. The Blues are one of only three sides remaining in the PRO12 who have failed to win an away game in the competition this season. The Welshmen were victorious on their first eight visits to Italy in all tournaments before losing and then drawing with Treviso in the PRO12 in both visits in 2013.

The teams:

Zebre: 15 Guglielmo Palazzani, 14 Giulio Toniolatti, 13 Kameli Ratuvou, 12 Tommaso Iannone, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Kelli Haimona, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Abraham Steyn, 6 Filippo Ferrarini, 5 George Biagi 4 Andries van Schalkwyk (capt), 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Luigi Ferraro 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Sami Panico, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 David Ryan 19 Filippo Cazzola, 20 Emiliano Caffini, 21 Luciano Orquera, 22 Tommaso Castello, 23 Ruggero Trevisan.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Tom Williams, 14 Harry Robinson, 13 Isaia Tuifua, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Dan Fish, 10 Gareth Davies, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Rory Watts-Jones, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Chris Dicomidis, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Sam Hobbs (c).
Replacements: 16 Rhys Williams, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Benoit Bourrust, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Simon Humberstone, 23 Dafydd Hewitt.

Date: Saturday, March 1
Kick-off: 16:00 local (15:00 GMT)
Venue: Stadio XXV Aprile
Referee: Gary Conway (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Marius Mitrea (Italy), Claudio Blessano (Italy)
Television match official: Carlo Damasco (Italy)
Timekeeper: Giannino Cappellozza (Italy)
Assessor: Mauro Dordolo (Italy)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster vs Saracens19:45
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs Toulon13:00
Scarlets vs Leicester19:45
Bath vs Toulouse15:15
Montpellier vs Glasgow17:15
Northampton vs Ospreys17:15
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks15:15
Castres vs Leinster13:00
Wasps vs Harlequins17:15
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 9217:15
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh vs Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Preview
Friday , October 24
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Brive vs Zebre18:30
Grenoble vs London Irish18:30
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Newcastle19:30
Edinburgh vs LOU Rugby19:45
Saturday , October 25
Bucuresti vs Stade Francais14:00
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs Connacht15:00
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , October 25
Western Province vs Lions17:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Saturday , October 25
Taranaki vs Tasman19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
Zebre 24 - 33 Oyonnax
Cardiff Blues 37 - 14 Grenoble
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Lions 50 - 20 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Western Province 31 - 23 Blue BullsWestern Province vs Blue Bulls Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 49 - 30 AucklandTaranaki vs Auckland Report
Manawatu 23 - 18 Southland
Tasman 26 - 6 CanterburyTasman vs Canterbury Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 17
Harlequins 25 - 9 CastresHarlequins vs Castres Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Bordeaux-Begles 13 - 15 EdinburghBordeaux-Begles vs Edinburgh Report
Newcastle 43 - 19 Bucuresti
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615