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Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

Match Page 2017-18 - Last Time WP ID: 133

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Match Page 2017-18 - Last 3 Matches WP: 142

Match Page 2017-18 - Season so Far WP:141

Preivew: Zebre v Connacht

Charlie Peat 1 Dec 2017

Zebre and Connacht will be desperate to get back to winning ways after both falling to defeat in Round Nine.

The pair will meet at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on Saturday at 1.15pm for the first time this season and currently sit fifth and sixth in Conference A.

What’s at stake? Zebre’s comeback victory over Ulster in Round Five was the highlight in an otherwise tricky season, losing their last four league matches.

But a victory would trim the gap to Connacht who are six points ahead of the Italians in the standings.

Similarly, Connacht’s season has been marred by inconsistency but they have won two of their last three matches including impressive victories over Munster and the Toyota Cheetahs.

A win for Connacht could see them leapfrog Cardiff Blues in the table and trim the gap to third-placed Cheetahs.

Team news (Zebre): The return of nine internationals to the Zebre squad should give them the boost they need to take on the Irish province.

There is also good news on the injury front with David Sisi and George Biagi return to the squad. Baigi will captain the side against Connacht.

Team news (Connacht): Connacht Head Coach Kieran Keane has included new signing Pita Ahki among his starting XV for the first time.

Keane has also going for a new half back pairing with Steve Crosbie lining up alongside Kieran Marmion at scrum half following his return from international duty. In the pack Shane Delahunt, who scored two tries against Cardiff, starts at hooker where he is flanked by Denis Buckley at loosehead and Finlay Bealham at tighthead.

Talking points: Head coach Kieran Keane said: “While we were disappointed not to beat Cardiff last week, I was proud of the boys and the way they battled to take two points from the game. In this competition it is really important to do well against teams in our conference.”
“We will face a big challenge against Zebre on Saturday. They have made it difficult against a lot of teams so far this season particularly when they are at home. We will need to be at our best to beat them.”

Key Battle: Giulio Bisegni v Tom Farrell

Giulio Bisegni has been a rock for the Zebre side so far this season and was impressive again in the defeat to Munster.

The centre dotted down in the 35th minute but couldn’t prevent a 36-19 defeat. However with internationals returning around him, Bisegni could be a key cog in the Zebre machine.

Tom Farrell has enjoyed a consistent run in the Connacht line up and has been impressive throughout the season.

The 24-year-old has more offloads than anyone else in the league and has also made 329 metres so far in this campaign.

Did you know? Zebre secured one of only three wins last season when they beat Connacht 25-22 the last time the Irish province travelled to Parma.

Key Stat: No player has more offloads in the Guinness PRO14 so far this season than Thomas Farrell (23).

Zebre: Matteo Minozzi, Mattia Bellini, Giulio Bisegni, Tommaso Boni, Giovanb, attista Venditti, Carlo Canna, Marcello Violi, Andrea Lovotti, Oliviero Fabiani, Dario Chistolini, Leonard Krumov, George Biagi, Maxime Mbandà, Johan Meyer, Renato Giammarioli

Replacements: Luhandre Luus, Cruze Ah-Nau, Eduardo Bello, David Sisi, Jacopo Sarto, Guglielmo Palazzani, Serafin Bordoli, Ciaran Gaffney

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran, Cian Kelleher, Pita Ahki, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy, Steve Crosbie, Kieran Marmion, Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson, James Connolly, John Muldoon
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, Cillian Gallagher, Naulia Dawai, James Mitchell, Jack Carty, Eoin Griffin.

Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)
AR1: Sean Gallagher (IRFU) AR2: Gianluca Gnecchi (FIR) TMO: Leo Colgan (IRFU)

TV: TG4 (1.10pm)

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

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

Zebre turn on the style in Connacht win

Charlie Bennett 2 Dec 2017

Zebre secured just their third win of the Guinness PRO14 season as tries from Johan Meyer and Giovanbattista Venditti saw off Connacht.

The Italian side were physical in defence and controlled territory throughout in a tense and tight encounter.

And when the pressure was on they produced as Meyer scored following a kick over the top and Venditti muscled his way through to clinch it.

The result moves Zebre to within two points of Connacht in a tight Conference A.

With just three wins from nine games and a point off Cardiff Blues in fourth, this was a crucial game for Connacht.

The 2016 champions started positively, controlling much of the possession in the first ten minutes but they struggled to make much ground against Zebre’s fierce defence.

And the Italians got on the board first as Carlo Canna slotted over a penalty from close range after Connacht were caught offside at the breakdown.

Zebre’s defence was beginning to cause nerves in Connacht’s attack with Tiernan O’Halloran uncharacteristically kicking out on the full while under pressure.

Tries were still unforthcoming through, with Zebre winger Venditti failing to find centre Giulio Bisegni in space after a neat Canna kick to the left flank.

Venditti was in the thick of the action just before the break as he sprinted clear and reached out for the corner following a floated pass out wide.

But O’Halloran just about held the ball up and Zebre were left with just a Canna penalty.

Connacht were a team on a mission after the break and took the lead within five minutes of the re-start as Tom Farrell burst through to score with Steve Crosbie converting.

Zebre piled forward with Canna at the heart of everything they did in possession, and it was his break which almost set up a try.

Connacht’s scramble defence just about prevented it but Canna put them back ahead with his third penalty.

Jack Carty regained the lead for Connacht, with the Irish side injecting more urgency into their play but they were stung as Meyer latched onto the end of a kick over the top to dot down.

Canna extended that to nine points with a penalty before Venditti powered through to cap off a superb afternoon.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

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