United Rugby Championship: Glasgow Warriors’ Scotland internationals return for Cardiff encounter

Colin Newboult
Rory Darge Glasgow Warriors 2021 - Alamy.jpg

The United Rugby Championship continues on Friday as three matches take place, including the clash between Glasgow Warriors and Cardiff.

Zebre Parma v Sharks

Zebre Parma head coach Fabio Roselli has made two alterations to his starting line-up for their United Rugby Championship encounter against the Sharks at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on Friday.

After suffering a narrow defeat to Leinster in last week’s tournament opener, the Italian outfit have kept faith with the majority of their players for this fixture against the Sharks, who are playing their first game of the season.

Both changes are in the front-row with Luca Bigi and Ion Neculai coming in to replace Jacques du Toit and Matteo Nocera at hooker and tighthead prop respectively.

Meanwhile, Sharks head coach Sean Everitt has named a strong run-on side for their first United Rugby Championship match of the season with Boeta Chamberlain named to start at fly-half.

Curwin Bosch and Lionel Cronje are both sidelined through injury which means Fred Zeilinga will be the back fly-half while Springbok scrum-half Grant Williams is Chamberlain’s halback partner.

Aphelele Fassi is the starting fly-half and is joined in the back three by Werner Kok and Thaakir Abrahams while Rohan Janse van Rensburg is set to make his debut for the Durban-based side at outside centre with Ben Tapuai starting alongside him in midfield.

The Sharks will be captained by tighthead prop Thomas du Toit, who is packs down in the front-row alongside Kerron van Vuuren (hooker) and fellow Springbok fron-row Ntuthuko Mchunu, while Reniel Hugo and Gerbrandt Grobler start in the engine room.

Phepsi Buthelezi will start at number eight with Dylan Richardson and James Venter joining him in the back-row.

The teams:

Zebre15 Richard Kriel, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Erich Cronjé, 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Simone Gesi, 10 Tiff Eden, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Taina Fox-Matamua, 7 MJ Pelser, 6 Luca Andreani, 5 Leonard Krumov, 4 David Sisi (c), 3 Ion Neculai, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Paolo Buonfiglio
16 Giampietro Ribaldi, 17 Juan Pitinari, 18 Muhamed Hasa, 19 Joshua Furno, 20 Gabriele Venditti, 21 Alessandro Fusco, 22 Franco Smith Jr, 23 Jacopo Trulla

Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Dylan Richardson, 6 James Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Gerbrandt Grobler, 3 Thomas du Toit (c), 2 Kerron van Vurren, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu
16 Dan Jooste, 17 Dian Bleuler, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Justin Basson, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Marnus Potgieter

Venue: Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Kick-off: 18:30 local (17:30 BST, 16:30 GMT)
Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)
Assistant referees: Federico Vedovelli (Italy), Dante D’ella (Italy)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)

Glasgow Warriors v Cardiff

A Glasgow Warriors team showing four changes from last weekend will take to the field at Scotstoun on Friday night, as Franco Smith and company welcome Cardiff for their 2022/23 United Rugby Championship home opener.

The match will also see the Warrior Nation roar on their team from the Scotstoun stands for the first time in almost six months, with the club’s last home fixture resulting in a 40-12 victory over Zebre Parma back on Friday, April 1.

Two of the four changes can be found in the front-row, as Zander Fagerson – a try-scorer off the bench last time out – and Fraser Brown come in to start alongside Jamie Bhatti.

Scott Cummings is another to be promoted from the replacements bench to start as he joins Richie Gray in the engine room.

Rory Darge is selected to start at openside flank, a move that sees Matt Fagerson shift to the blindside in a loose trio completed by number eight Jack Dempsey.

The half-backs are unchanged from last weekend’s season opener in Treviso, meaning George Horne and Tom Jordan – fresh from his debut last weekend – continue in the nine and 10 jerseys.

Stafford McDowall and Sione Tuipulotu pair up in the centres, the latter jointly leading the Warriors for defenders beaten in Round One.

A similarly unchanged back three sees Sebastian Cancelliere and Kyle Steyn named on the wings, with Cole Forbes continuing in his role at full-back.

There’s a potential debut in store for South African second-rower JP du Preez after the summer arrival from Sale Sharks was named amongst the replacements by Smith and the coaching team.

He will look to follow in the footsteps of fellow off-season signings Lucio Sordoni and Sintu Manjezi, both of whom retain their places in the matchday 23 by rotating to the bench.

George Turner and Oli Kebble complete the front-row replacements, whilst Thomas Gordon also continues amongst the bench in a six-two split of forwards and backs.

Ali Price is once again named in the number 22 shirt, with Argentinian fly-half Domingo Miotti recovering from the hamstring injury that ruled him out of Round One to take his place in the matchday squad.

Meanwhile, James Ratti makes a return to the starting line-up for Cardiff’s first away game of the season.

The number eight, who toured South Africa with Wales over the summer, is one of only three changes made as the Blue and Blacks look to build on the opening day win over Munster at Cardiff Arms Park.

Number eight Ratti comes in for Taulupe Faletau, who’s game time is being managed, and joins James Botham and Thomas Young in the back-row, with the pack’s front five remaining unchanged.

With Liam Williams ruled out following shoulder surgery, Matthew Morgan wears the number 15 jersey, slotting alongside Aled Summerhill and Josh Adams in the back three, with centre Mason Grady – replacing Rey Lee-Lo – the final change made to the starting XV.

Cardiff are yet to taste league victory at Scotstoun but will be buoyed by their 32-28 victory, the last time the sides met, while Glasgow have since fallen to five consecutive defeats.

Keiron Assiratti and Brad Thyer are both drafted onto the bench, while the likes of Lopeti Timani, Rhys Priestland and Uilisi Halaholo will be looking to pick up where they left off last week, having impressed as replacements against Munster.

The teams:

Glasgow15 Cole Forbes, 14 Sebastian Cancelliere, 13 Sione Tuipulotu, 12 Stafford McDowall, 11 Kyle Steyn (c), 10 Tom Jordan, 9 George Horne, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Rory Darge, 6 Matt Fagerson, 5 Richie Gray, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Jamie Bhatti
16 George Turner, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Sintu Manjezi, 21 Thomas Gordon, 22 Ali Price, 23 Domingo Miotti

Cardiff15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Aled Summerhill, 13 Mason Grady, 12 Max Llewellyn, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 James Ratti, 7 Thomas Young, 6 James Botham, 5 Seb Davies, 4 Josh Turnbull (c), 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Rhys Carré
16 Liam Belcher, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Uilisi Halaholo

Venue: Scotstoun Stadium
Kick-off: 19:35 BST (18:35 GMT)
Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Finlay Brown (Scotland), Ru Campbell (Scotland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

Leinster v Benetton

There are a number of changes to the Leinster 23 that accounted for Zebre Parma last weekend on the road with Leo Cullen able to call on a number of the Irish players that won a first ever series in New Zealand during the summer.

Garry Ringrose is also back to the starting XV and will captain the side. He will be partnered in the centre by Robbie Henshaw.

Elsewhere in the backs Jimmy O’Brien, Jordan Larmour and Dave Kearney are the back three selected by Cullen, with Luke McGrath and Ciarán Frawley in the half backs.

In the pack, Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan and Michael Alaalatoa are selected in the front-row, while James Ryan partners South African lock Jason Jenkins for the first time behind them.

Finally, it’s a completely new back-row for Cullen this week, with Ryan Baird, Josh van der Flier and Caelan Doris selected to start.

On the bench Cian Healy is in line to win his 250th cap if introduced.

For Benetton side, Ignacio Mendy starts at full-back after a solid game in round one and is joined by Mattia Bellini and debutant Onisi Ratave on the wings.

Marco Zanon and Joaquin Riera start in the centres outside half-back pairing Giacomo Da Re and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne.

Skipper Michele Lamaro starts on the side of the scrum with Giovanni Pettinelli and Toa Halafihi in the loose trio.

Scott Scrafton and Niccolo Cannone start in the second-row while Simone Ferrari, Giacomo Nicotera and Ivan Nemer make up the front-row.

On the bench, Gianmarco Lucchesi, Federico Zani are front-row replacements, with Filippo Alongi, Carl Wegner and potential debutant Henry Time-Stowers the remaining forward replacements.

Tommaso Menoncello and Rativa Tavuyara join Manfredi Albanese as the backline substitutes.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Jimmy O’Brien, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Garry Ringrose (c), 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ciarán Frawley, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Ryan Baird, 5 James Ryan, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Michael Ala’alatoa, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter
Replacements: 16 Rónan Kelleher, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Cian Healy, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Will Connors, 21 Cormac Foley, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Charlie Ngatai

Benetton: 15 Ignacio Mendy, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Joaquin Riera, 12 Marco Zanon, 11 Onisi Ratave, 10 Giacomo Da Re, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Michele Lamaro (c), 6 Giovanni Pettinelli, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Niccolò Cannone, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Giacomo Nicotera,1 Ivan Nemer
Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Filippo Alongi, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Henry Time-Stowers, 21 Manfredi Albanese, 22 Tommaso Menoncello, 23 Ratuva Tavuyara

Venue: RDS Arena
Kick-off: 19:35 BST (18:35 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Paul Haycock (Ireland), Andrew Fogarty (Ireland)
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)

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