Toyota Cheetahs will face Zebre in their first ever Guinness PRO14 match in Italy at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on Saturday.
The pair met at the start of the season with the Cheetahs producing a bonus-point 54-29 victory at the Toyota Stadium.
What’s at stake?
After a two-week domestic break, Zebre come back to league action off the back of two defeats against Agen and Pau in the European Challenge Cup.
The Italian side have not won since their stunning 27-23 triumph over Ulster and will be looking to end a run of three successive defeats in all competitions.
Meanwhile the Toyota Cheetahs will be looking to bounce back after they were edged out in their last league match against unbeaten Glasgow Warriors with just minutes to play.
Team news (Zebre): There will be five changes in the starting line-up of Zebre from their defeat against Pau in the Challenge Cup.
Sami Panico replaces Andrea Lovotti with Leonard Krumow and Valerio Bernabo deputising for David Sisi and George Biagi respectively
Backs Mattia Bellini and Matteo Minozzi regain selection after recovering from injury.
Team news (Cheetahs): The South African side make three changes to the line-up against the Glasgow Warriors with Raymond Rhule, Junior Pokomela and Ox Nche coming in for Rosko Specman, Charle Marais and Henco Venter.
Fred Zeilinga will be making his Guinness PRO14 bow this weekend having been sidelined due to hip injury he picked up in July.
It wasn’t a brilliant couple of weeks for these two sides away from domestic action as both lost in their respective cup competitions.
The Cheetahs were scintillating in their 54-39 victory over Zebre on September 16, running over eight tries in a dominant home display.
The Italian outfit will be itching to get revenge on home soil and will take inspiration from their previous home fixture in the league against Ulster.
Key Battle: Makazole Mapimpi v Mattia Bellini
With an impressive 10 tries between them already, this should be quite a match-up at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.
Makazole Mapimpi tore Zebre to shreds in their previous meeting; scoring the first of eight tries in Bloemfontein.
He’s up against the free-scoring Mattia Bellini who already has four tries this campaign and is Zebre’s top try scorer this term.
Key stat: Zebre’s Giovanni Licata made five offloads in Round 6 of the Guinness PRO14, more than any other player in the league.
Did you know? The contest between these two sides in September was the first ever Guinness PRO14 match to be held at the Toyota Stadium, in Bloemfontein
Zebre: M Minozzi; G Bisegni, T Boni, T Castello, M Bellini, C Canna, M Violi, S Panico, O Fabiani, E Bello, L Krumow, V Bernabo, G Licata, J Meyer, D Minnie
Replacements: L Luus, A Lovotti, D Chistolini, J Sarto, R Giammarioli, G Palazzani, S Bordoli, C Gaffney
Toyota Cheetahs: S Petersen, R Rhule, F Venter, W Small-Smith, M Mapimpi, E Stapelberg, T Meyer, O Nche, T van Jaarsveld, T Botha, J Basson, R Hugo, P Schoeman, J Pokomela, O Mohoje
Replacements: J Toit, C Marais, J Coetzee, R Bernardo, J Wiese, S Venter, F Zeilinga, N Lee
TV: Eurosport Italia 2 (KO 6pm)
Match officials – Referee: Dan Jones (WRU), AR1: Andrea Piardi (FIR), AR2: Gianluca Gnecchi (FIR), TMO: Alan Falzone (IRFU)
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 be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie
Substitute Fred Zeilinga hit a dramatic late penalty as Toyota Cheetahs claimed a thrilling win in the last minute away at Conference A rivals Zebre.
Tries from Matteo Minozzi and Oliviero Fabiani seemingly set the hosts on course for victory while Carlo Canna was deadly from the tee against the South Africans.
But the visitors were dangerous throughout and scored two tries of their own from Makazole Mapimpi, the second setting up a grandstand finish.
And Zeilinga came off the bench to kick the winning points, earning his side their first ever away win in the Guinness PRO14.
Following a one-point defeat to Edinburgh Rugby last time out, Zebre had a point to prove but they faced a substantial challenge against a Cheetahs side that had won two of their last three games.
And if Zebre needed any further evidence about the size of the task they were up against, then the Cheetahs gave it to them in the fifth minute.
A neat move resulted in Mapimpi, one of the league’s most dangerous wingers, touching down for his sixth try of the season.
But Zebre, buoyed on by their home supporters, rallied as Minzzoi dotted down just minutes after Canna booted two of his three penalties.
The Italian fly-half kicked another to give the home side an eight-point lead at the break and they stretched that when Fabiani rumbled over for a superb score.
Yet the Cheetahs hit back as Mapimpi scored his second of the match with a fine finish and Ernst Stapelberg slotted through three penalties.
Zebre thought they had done enough to win but Zeilinga came off the bench to score the winning points, giving the away side their fourth win of the season.
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
27 Oct 2017
27 Oct 2017