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RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Zebre v Munster

RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Zebre v Munster

Some of Munster’s emerging players have been tasked with securing a final league victory for the province in Parma tonight, as they look to quickly get over their semi-final exit from the Heineken Cup.

RABODIRECT PRO12: Friday, May 3

ZEBRE (12th) v MUNSTER (6th), Stadio XXV Aprile, 7.45pm local time/6.45pm Irish time (live SportItalia 2)

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Team News: Munster play their final game of the season on Friday at Stade XXV Aprile against Italian side Zebre, who are looking to finish their season on a high by claiming that elusive first ever win in the RaboDirect PRO12.

Munster, who have not won an away game in the league in 2013, have named a side that includes 2013 Lions tourist Paul O’Connell and Heineken Cup semi-final try scorer Denis Hurley.

The fit-again Sean Dougall returns to the Munster starting line-up for the first time since March and is joined by David O’Callaghan and Paddy Butler in the back row.

The versatile Ian Keatley joins Casey Laulala in forming what is likely to be a lively centre pairing, while JJ Hanrahan and Cathal Sheridan join forces at half-back.

Academy player Ronan O’Mahony gets his second PRO12 start on the right wing with Academy prop James Cronin named in the replacements for a possible second outing at this level. Potential debutant Cian Bohane is also listed on the bench.

In a late alteration to the province’s bench, former Ireland Under-20 captain Niall Scannell comes in as reserve hooker with Damien Varley having dislocated a finger during last weekend’s European clash with Clermont Auvergne.

Friday’s round 22 clash will be broadcast only on Italian channel SportItalia 2, with no coverage in Ireland. Munster Rugby are planning to tweet live updates here.

Meanwhile, the Zebre management have restored Gonzalo Garcia and Tito Tebaldi to their starting back-line for the visit of Munster to Parma.

Garcia slots back in at inside centre with Alberto Benettin, who start at full-back against Leinster last time out, moving to join him in midfield. Ruggero Trevisan will wear the number 15 jersey this time.

Hooker Davide Giazzon and ex-Munster prop David Ryan have been drafted into the front row, with Josh Sole moving from number 8 to the second row where he partners captain Marco Bortolami.

Influential South African Andries van Schalkwyk, Zebre’s top try scorer during their debut league campaign, returns from injury to anchor their scrum.

ZEBRE: Ruggero Trevisan; Giovanbattista Venditti, Alberto Benettin, Gonzalo Garcia, Sinoti Sinoti; Daniel Halangahu, Tito Tebaldi; Matias Aguero, Davide Giazzon, David Ryan, Josh Sole, Marco Bortolami (capt), Filippo Ferrarini, Mauro Bergamasco, Andries van Schalkwyk.

Replacements: Andrea Manici, Luciano Leibson, Andrea de Marchi, Emiliano Caffini, Filippo Cristiano, Alberto Chillon, Matteo Pratichetti, Samuele Pace.

MUNSTER: Denis Hurley; Ronan O’Mahony, Casey Laulala, Ian Keatley, Johne Murphy; JJ Hanrahan, Cathal Sheridan; David Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, John Ryan, Billy Holland, Paul O’Connell (capt), David O’Callaghan, Sean Dougall, Paddy Butler.

Replacements: Niall Scannell, James Cronin, BJ Botha, Ian Nagle, Niall Ronan, Duncan Williams, Cian Bohane, Felix Jones.

Referee: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Matteo Liperini, Stefano Roscini (both Italy)
Television Match Official: Carlo Damasco (Italy)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Zebre to win: 2/1; Draw: 22/1; Munster to win: 4/11

Pre-Match Quotes: Vincenzo Troiani (Zebre) – “This is the last game of a bad season if you look only at our results. The coaching staff are satisfied by many aspects of this first year – the growth of the squad, both individually and collectively, and the increased quality of our play that has allowed us to be competitive at least in recent months.

“We’re happy with the development of many young players who have stepped up to this level. Thanks to their efforts in the league and Europe, I believe they are ready to be tested out at international level.

“That was one of our targets – feeding players through to the Italy squad – and it’s very much part of the Zebre rugby mission.”

Top Scorers – 2012/13 RaboDirect PRO12: Zebre – Points: Daniel Halangahu 71; Tries: Andries van Schalkwyk 6; Munster – Points: Ian Keatley 130; Tries: Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander 4 each


Friday, October 26, 2012 – Munster 29 Zebre 3, Thomond Park


– This is the last chance this campaign for Zebre to claim that elusive first ever win in the RaboDirect PRO12, although they have picked up nine bonus points during the season

– Munster have won just one of their last seven RaboDirect PRO12 matches: 22-0 at home to Connacht on March 23

– The Munstermen have not won away from home in the competition in 2013 and have lost on their last two visits to Italy

– Munster won 29-3 at Thomond Park when the two sides met in round 7 back in October