Willis Halaholo hits 100 for Cardiff against Bulls while Ulster and Munster name strong teams for Irish derby

David Skippers
Willis Halaholo Cardiff URC 2021 - Alamy.jpg

Cardiff centre Willis Haloholo.

The United Rugby Championship continues on Friday as three matches take place, with Zebre Parma, Cardiff and Ulster hosting the Sharks, Bulls and Munster in their respective fixtures.

Zebre Parma v Sharks

Zebre Parma head coach Fabio Roselli has made nine changes to his starting line-up – six in the forwards and three in the backline – for their clash with the Sharks.

Up front, Juan Pitinari is back and he is once again deployed as the starting tighthead prop. Captain Giovanni Licata (number eight), David Sisi (lock) and Luca Bigi (hooker) also return to action in the pack.

After three convincing matches, Geronimo Prisciantelli gets a chance to start at full-back while Englishman Tiff Eden starts a fly-half alongside Argentine number nine Gonzalo Garcia.

There is also experience on the bench with a first call-up of the season for Azzurri centre Luca Morisi.

Meanwhile, Sharks head coach John Plumtree has been fortunate to be in a position to mostly retain the same starting line-up as he looks to build continuity, making just two changes.

George Cronje starts at number eight, swapping jerseys with last week’s incumbent Sikhumbuzo Notshe, while Boeta Chamberlain has come into the starting line-up in place of Curwin Bosch.

It is all about ending the tour on a high and these young men will certainly be up for the challenge.

The teams

Zebre Parma15 Geronimo Prisciantelli, 14 Jacopo Trulla, 13 Fetuli Paea, 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Simone Gesi, 10 Tiff Eden, 9 Gonzalo Garcia, 8 Giovanni Licata (c), 7 Iacopo Bianchi, 6 Luca Andreani, 5 Leonard Krumov, 4 David Sisi, 3 Juan Pitinari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Danilo Fischetti
Replacements:
16 Giampietro Ribaldi, 17 Luca Rizzoli, 18 Muhamed Hasa, 19 Matteo Canali, 20 Davide Ruggeri, 21 Alessandro Fusco, 22 Luca Morisi, 23 Taina Fox-Matamua

Sharks15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Francois Venter (c), 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 George Cronje, 7 Phepsi Buthelezi, 6 James Venter,, 5 Emile van Heerden, 4 Corne Rahl, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Dylan Richardson, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu
Replacements:
16 Daniel Jooste, 17 Khwezi Mona, 18 Hanro Jacobs, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 Marnus Potgieter

Venue: Stadio Lanfranchi, Parma
Kick-off: 18:30 local (17:30 GMT)
Referee: Peter Martin (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Riccardo Angelucci (Italy), Filippo Bertili (Italy)
TMO: Mark Patton (Ireland)

Cardiff v Bulls

Willis Halaholo will make his 100th appearance for Cardiff as four Wales stars return for Friday’s United Rugby Championship clash with the Bulls.

The centre, who returned to the club on a short-term deal at the beginning of the season, will reach the milestone having battled back from a series of injuries.

He links up with Rey Lee-Lo in a familiar midfield as the Blue and Blacks make eight changes in total for the clash.

Corey Domachowski, Teddy Williams, Tomos Williams and Mason Grady also come into the starting team after featuring for Wales against the Barbarians last weekend.

Domachowski is joined in the front-row by Efan Daniel, who makes his first start of the season, and Rhys Litterick, while second-row Williams partners Rory Thornton in the boiler-house.

The only other change in the pack sees Ellis Jenkins return to the starting line-up with Thomas Young utilised from the bench.

In the backs, Tomos Williams links up with Tinus de Beer, while Jacob Beetham is handed his first URC start at full-back and Mason Grady comes onto the wing.

Rhys Carré, Seb Davies and Young all provide experience from the bench, while Arwel Robson is set for his competitive debut for the club.

Meanwhile, the Bulls have handed loose forward Celimpilo Gumede his debut this weekend for the clash at the Arms Park.

Gumede – a former SA Schools and Junior Bok – will lace up his boots at number eight, bringing his explosive game to the pack that is led by an unchanged front-row, with Nizaam Carr captaining the side.

Carr will start at blindside flank whilst Cyle Brink will be on the openside with the duo of Reinhardt Ludwig and Janko Swanepoel forming the lock pairing.

Embrose Papier and Chris Smith will direct traffic flow as the half-back combination with an unchanged backline behind them.

Sergeal Petersen is on the left wing whilst his energetic counterpart Sebastian de Klerk will be on the right while David Kriel will be hoping to add more tries to his tally from inside centre with Stedman Gans on his outside and Devon Williams at full-back.

Director of rugby, Jake White, has gone with a 6-2 bench split which will see Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenekamp, Mornay Smith, Ruan Nortje, Elrigh Louw and Cameron Hanekom sit on standby for forward pack duty with Keagan Johannes and Johan Goosen the optional backline picks on the waiting list for duty.

The teams

Cardiff15 Jacob Beetham, 14 Harri Millard, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Mason Grady, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Lopeti Timani, 7 Ellis Jenkins (c), 6 Alex Mann, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Tddy Williams, 3 Rhys Litterick, 2 Efan Daniel, 1 Corey Domachowski
Replacements:
16 Evan Lloyd, 17 Rhys Carré, 18 Will Davies-King, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Thomas Young, 21 Ellis Bevan, 22 Arwell Robson, 23 Cameron Winnett

Bulls: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Sebastian de Klerk, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 David Kriel, 11 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Mpilo Gumede, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Nizaam Carr (c), 5 Janko Swanepoel, 4 Reinhardt Ludwig, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Simphiwe Matanzima
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Ruan Nortje, 20 Elrigh Louw, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Johan Goosen, 24 Cameron Hanekom

Venue: Cardiff Arms Park
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Tom Spurrier (Wales), Steff Edwards (Wales)
TMO: Stefano Penne (Italy)

Ulster v Munster

Dan McFarland has named his Ulster side that will face off with Munster at Kingspan Stadium in Friday’s United Rugby Championship Round Four fixture.

Ulster hope to bounce back to winnings ways, after the province’s first loss of the campaign in Round Three against Connacht. The much-changed team put in a physical performance in Galway but were edged out by the home side who won 22-20.

Tom Stewart captains the side this week against Munster, with the 22-year-old hooker returning to the starting line-up to lead the home side in an Interprovincial derby for the first time.

Joining Stewart in the front-row is Eric O’Sullivan, who starts at loosehead prop. Greg McGrath is named at tighthead prop, with the former Jersey Reds forward making his first start in front of a home crowd at Kingspan Stadium.

In the second-row, Cormac Izuchukwu and Kieran Treadwell return after both missing last weekend’s Connacht trip due to injury.

Leading the way in the URC for tackles made, David McCann, continues to show his versatility in the back-row, as he starts on the blindside, with Marcus Rea returning to the team at openside flanker. Nick Timoney retains his place at number eight, having started the last two matches.

Nathan Doak and Billy Burns start as the half-back partnership that played together for the majority of last season.

Ireland international, Stuart McCloskey, is straight into the team after having a period of rest following the Rugby World Cup in France. The Bangor man starts at inside centre alongside Stewart Moore, who impressed against Connacht in Galway.

On the left wing, Jacob Stockdale will hope to continue his fine try-scoring form this season as he returns to the team. Rob Baloucoune starts on the right wing for his second appearance of the campaign, and Ethan McIlroy completes the backfield, as he starts at full-back.

In a strong bench, Ulster welcome back two fan favourites, with Rob Herring and club captain, Iain Henderson, returning from international duty.

The fixture will mark a historic landmark for Herring, as the reliable hooker is set to smash Ulster’s all-time appearance record, as a call-up from the bench will mark the 230th time he represents Ulster.

Callum Reid is ready to go from the bench as is Ulster Academy tighthead prop, Scott Wilson, who is hoping to make his debut for the province.

Dave Ewers returns to the squad after suffering an injury against the Bulls. John Cooney is also back and on the bench, with former Munster fly-half, Jake Flannery, and centre, Jude Postlethwaite, completing the replacement options.

Meanwhile, Munster boss Graham Rowntree has named his matchday squad for their first Interpro derby of the season against Ulster in Belfast.

Hooker Diarmuid Barron captains Munster for the first time with Fineen Wycherley starting on his 100th Munster appearance.

Three academy players are included in the squad with five changes to the starting XV that beat the Dragons at Musgrave Park last week.

Antoine Frisch and Jack Crowley come into the backline with returning Ireland international Jeremy Loughman, Fineen Wycherley and John Hodnett starting in the pack.

The back three personnel are unchanged with Shane Daly at full-back as Calvin Nash and Seán O’Brien swap wings.

Alex Nankivell moves to inside centre and starts with Frisch in midfield for the first time as Craig Casey and Crowley start together for the first time this season in the half-backs.

Loughman, Barron and John Ryan pack down in the front-row with Academy lock Edwin Edogbo and Wycherley in the engine room.

Alex Kendellen, Hodnett and Gavin Coombes complete the starting XV.

Scott Buckley, Josh Wycherley and Stephen Archer provide the front-row back-up as Tom Ahern and Academy back-row Brian Gleeson complete the forward cover.

Paddy Patterson, Rory Scannell and 19-year-old Academy back three player Ben O’Connor are the backline replacements.

Jack O’Donoghue was not considered for selection due to illness.

The teams

Ulster: 15 Ethan McIlroy, 14 Rob Baloucoune, 13 Stewart Moore, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Nathan Doak, 8 Nick Timoney, 7 Marcus Rea, 6 David McCann, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Cormac Izuchukwu, 3 Greg McGrath, 2 Tom Stewart (c), 1 Eric O’Sullivan
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Callum Reid, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Dave Ewers, 21 John Cooney, 22 Jake Flannery, 23 Jude Postlethwaite

Munster: 15 Shane Daly, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Antoine Frisch, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Seán O’Brien, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 John Hodnett, 6 Alex Kendellen, 5 Fineen Wycherley, 4 Edwin Edogbo, 3 John Ryan, 2 Diarmuid Barron (c), 1 Jeremy Loughman
Replacements: 16 Scott Buckley, 17 Josh Wycherley, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Tom Ahern, 20 Brian Gleeson, 21 Paddy Patterson, 22 Rory Scannell, 23 Ben O’Connor

Venue: Kingspan Stadium
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Robbie Jenkinson (Ireland), Paul Haycock (Ireland)
TMO: Brian McNeice (Italy)

READ MORE: Forgotten Springboks winger keen to build on fast start at Stormers