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Leinster aim to maintain run against buoyant Zebre

client 4 Nov 2016

Guinness PRO12 leaders Leinster travel to the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi to take on Zebre on Saturday 5th November, at 16:05 GMT. The four-time champions will be hoping for fireworks but could face a Zebre side fresh from a first away win in Scotland, having beaten Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield last Friday.

What’s at stake? Leinster will be looking for a sixth straight victory, with a bonus point win enough to keep them on top of the standings, while Zebre will be aiming for another win which could potentially move them up to eight.

Team news (Zebre): The Italians have unsurprisingly stuck with the majority of the team who beat Edinburgh, with only one change. Matteo Pratichetti replaces Tommaso Boni, slotting in at outside centre. There will be 11 Azzurri in the matchday squad.

Team news (Leinster): Head coach Leo Cullen has made seven changes to the side that beat Connacht last time out. Tom Daly, Ireland 7s skipper, makes his debut for the Men in Blue and Isa Nacewa will captain the side from full-back. Adam Byrne and Barry Daly, try-scorers from last weekend, will continue on the wings, with Ireland hooker Richardt Strauss returning from knee trouble.

Talking points: Cullen will be without several regular starters as Ireland take on New Zealand on the same day, but Leinster will be hoping to extend their run of eight wins against the Italians, seven with a try bonus-point. Zebre, with only one change, have a much more stable line-up, and having picked up their first win of the season last time out will be hopeful of springing another surprise in Parma.

Key battle: Edoardo Padovani vs Isa Nacewa. Leinster’s top points scorer this season will hope to outplay fellow full-back Padovani, 23, and add to his 39 points this season. Padovani is just as comfortable at fly-half, and like Nacewa could be called upon as a second playmaker by the home side.

Key stat: Leinster have won all eight previous encounters with Zebre, seven with a try bonus point, whilst not allowing Zebre to record a single league point.

Lions contenders: Sean O’Brien is still on the comeback trail from injury, and as a result did not travel with Ireland to Chicago for their clash against the All Blacks. He will be looking to prove his fitness ahead of Ireland’s upcoming Tests against Canada, New Zealand once again, and Australia.

Did you know? Leinster’s only defeat in the first seven rounds of the Guinness PRO12 was 25-33 at Glasgow on 10 September.

Zebre: E Padovani, G Bisegni, M Pratichetti, T Castello, G Venditti, C Canna, M Violi, A Lovotti, T D’Apice, D Chistolini, Q Geldenhuys, G Biagi (c), M Mbandà, J Meyer, A Van Schalkwyk

Replacements: C Festuccia, B Postiglioni, P Ceccarelli, F Ruzza, D Minnie, G Palazzani, C Engelbrecht,  S Balocchi

Top Points Scorer: Carlo Canna 36. Top Try Scorer: Giovanbattista Venditti 3.

Leinster: I Nacewa, A Byrne, T Daly, N Reid, B Daly, R Byrne, J Gibson-Park, A Porter, R Strauss, M Bent, M McCarthy, H Triggs, D Leavy, S O’Brien, J Conan.

Replacements: J Tracy, P Dooley, M Ross, M Kearney, R Ruddock, N McCarthy, D Ryan, H Keenan.

Top Points Scorer: Isa Nacewa 39. Top Try Scorer: Josh van der Flier, Isa Nacewa 3.

TV: 4.05pm, Sky Sports

Match officials – Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU). Assistant Referee 1: Simon Rees (IRFU). Assistant Referee 2: Filippo Bertelli (FIR).

Guinness PRO12 Final 2017 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 adults and €5 child, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ieFor further information visit http://www.pro12rugby.com/final

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Byrne treble puts Leinster back on top with win at Zebre

Charlie Bennett 5 Nov 2016

Adam Byrne scored a hat-trick as Leinster returned to the top of the Guinness PRO12 table with a bonus-point 33-10 victory away at Zebre.

The 22-year-old put his side ahead late in the first half after Zebre made a fast start, before two in the second period wrapped up a comfortable victory – preserving Leinster’s 100 per cent winning record against their hosts.

Centre Tom Daly scored on his Leinster debut after Andries van Schalkwyk put Zebre ahead, before Byrne took over in the second half.

Jack Conan also scored for the visitors, who have won seven of their eight league games so far this season.

Leinster director of rugby Leo Cullen made seven changes following their 24-13 victory against Connacht last weekend, with Daly the headline selection.

Prop Andrew Porter made his first start for the club, while hooker Richardt Strauss made his first appearance of the season.

Zebre were on top as they won the early aerial battle, but handling errors cost them an almost certain try as they coughed up the ball at the Leinster five-metre line.

But when Mike McCarthy was yellow carded, as Leinster were penalised for persistent fouling, they took the lead through Van Schalkwyk, who powered over for the game’s first try.

However, Leinster responded quickly as Daly scored following strong carries from Sean O’Brien and Conan, before Carlo Canna regained Zebre the lead with a penalty.

As the first half progressed, Leinster became more comfortable in possession and it was not long before they moved ahead for the first time courtesy of Byrne after a strong Barry Daly run.

Cullen made three changes in the pack after the break and the extra power immediately paid off after some ferocious work by the forwards created space outside, and Byrne scored his second try from Jamison Gibson-Park’s pass.

Isa Nacewa converted the score from wide on the right, giving Leinster a nine-point lead that they looked unlikely to lose after Canna missed a penalty minutes later.

Shortly after, Conan added the all-important fourth try to confirm a bonus point after Byrne, Noel Reid, Tom Daly and Gibson-Park combined to release the forward to score.

And Byrne wrapped up his hat-trick in style as fly-half Ross Byrne found the winger to dot down after he climbed over full-back Edoardo Padovani to score.

Zebre pushed hard in the final ten minutes to get some points back, but some resolute Leinster defending kept the hosts at bay.

Guinness PRO12 Final 2017 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 adults and €5 child, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie. For further information visit http://www.pro12rugby.com/final

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138