The battle of the wings will garner much attention on Saturday as Azzurri dangerman Mattia Bellini returns to action, as do the Toyota Cheetahs, with the deadly Rabz Maxwane fresh from the box.
Both South African sides return to action in Round 10 and, after seeing their form dip slightly following a great start to the season, the Cheetahs travel to Italy in high spirits after their 18-13 win over Ospreys last time out, and a significant rest over the Christmas period.
Hawies Fourie’s side currently occupy a Finals Series place, sitting third in Conference A and have never lost to Zebre.
Meanwhile, Michael Bradley’s men may have ended their 20-match winless run in Round 7 but two defeats to bitter rivals Benetton will sting and they will need to turn their poor home record around.
Kick-off: 15:00 (UK) 16:00 (ITA), Stadio Lanfranchi, Parma
How to watch: Live on DAZN, FreeSports, SuperSport 1 & www.pro14.tv
Players to watch out for: Mattia Bellini (Zebre) and Rabz Maxwane (Cheetahs)
There is plenty to keep an eye on in this one, including an all-Azzurri Zebre front row and the Cheetahs bringing all their dangermen, but the clash between Bellini and Maxwane is simply going to be box office.
Bellini is fully recovered from his injury and will start alongside Junior Laloifi and Charlie Walker in the back-three, the Italian international was in scintillating form before that injury and beating defenders for fun.
Meanwhile, Maxwane winning the Championship’s top try-scorer award last season with 14 in 20 tells you all you need to know about his threat.
Key stat: Toyota Cheetahs’s three-game losing run ended last time out with their 18-13 victory against Ospreys in Neath on 30 November.
Zebre: Junior Laloifi; Charlie Walker, Giulio Bisegni (Capt), Enrico Lucchin, Mattia Bellini; Carlo Canna, Joshua Renton; Andrea Lovotti, Luca Bigi, Giosue Zilocchi, David Sisi, Ian Nagle; Jimmy Tuivaiti, Johan Meyer, Giovanni Licata.
Replacements: Oliviero Fabiani, Danilo Fischetti, Eduardo Bello, Mick Kearney, George Biagi, Guglielmo Palazzani, Maxime Mbanda, Edoardo Padovani.
Toyota Cheetahs: Rhyno Smith; Craig Barry, William Small-Smith, Benhard Janse van Rensburgh, Rabz Maxwane; George Whitehead, Tian Meyer (Capt); Boan Venter; Wilmar Arnoldi; Aranos Coetzee; Sintu Manjezi; Walt Steenkamp; Chris Massyn; Junior Pokomela; Aidon Davis
Replacements: Joseph Dweba; Erich de Jager; Luan de Bruin; JP du Preez; Marnus van der Merwe; Gerhard Olivier; Ruan Pienaar; Tian Schoeman
Lightning-fast wing Charlie Walker grabbed a double in Parma as Zebre got their second win of the Guinness PRO14 season in swashbuckling style.
The Toyota Cheetahs started well but were largely second best for the rest of the 80, with Johan Meyer, Josh Renton and Giulio Bisegni the other tryscorers and Carlo Canna adding 14 points with the boot.
Fresh from their break over the Christmas period the Cheetahs started on the front foot in Parma and after a spell of pressure crossed from close range through hooker Wilmar Arnoldi.
Zebre were in no mood to take it though on home turf and fired back on 13 minutes, passes swung along the line inside the 22, Rabz Maxwane drawn in and Walker diving in down the right.
They followed it up with two Canna penalties for a 13-5 lead, the South Africans pulled a penalty back but crucially just before the interval Michael Bradley’s men struck again, Meyer forcing his way over off the back of a catch-and-drive.
The score read 20-8 at the break and the hosts set about extending the lead when play resumed, scoring a lovely try on 52 minutes as scrum-half Renton dummied to ghost in next to the posts.
The Cheetahs knew something had to be done but couldn’t quite put enough composure into the phases, and it took until 62 minutes for Tian Meyer to get in down the left.
Just as the comeback was on Bradley’s men snuffed it out within minutes, the ball being spun out wide and Walker barging over the last of the defenders for his second.
Zebre led 34-13 heading into the final 15 and finished with an exceptional flourish as Bisegni and XXXX both crossed.
Zebre full-back Junior Laloifi was a clear winner in this regard, picking up the gong for a fantastic, composed, all-round display.
Laloifi set up one try and beat five defenders on his way to 65 metres but perhaps more importantly was a steady hand under the high-ball all afternoon in Parma.
The key moment, and touch of class, came just after the interval when both the crowd and neutrals suspected a Cheetahs fightback may come, but Zebre got on the front foot on resumption of play.
The class came from Renton, showing he could break the defensive line all on his own with a delightful dummy and burst of pace for the third try.