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Zebre v Cardiff - RaboDirect PRO12 match preview
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Zebre sporting director Robert Manghi has emphasised the need for progress amongst his youthful side when they face Cardiff in Sunday's RaboDirect PRO12 clash.
Although the two sides have never met, Cardiff have won the 14 previous encounters they have played against Italian opponents in all competitions, and look to get back to winning ways this weekend after losing the last four PRO12 matches.
This year's newcomers Zebre, who lost 25-27 to table topping Ulster last weekend, are desperate to get their first ever win yet Manghi knows the challenge will be incredibly tough for his rock-bottom squad.
The Blues meanwhile have revealed a complete re- structuring of the front row as they look to re-group following their recent disappointments.
Trevett, Williams and Filise start with Breeze and Hobbs returning to the bench for the clash with Benoit Bourrust named as the final front row replacement after he returned from a calf injury.
The Blues also have Rhys Patchell and Michael Paterson back from injury, with the two resuming their position on the replacements bench.
At six, Rory Watts-Jones makes the starting XV partnering captain Josh Navidi, who will start at open side flanker with Copeland at Number 8.
At inside centre Dafydd Hewitt returns, with Gavin Evans moving to thirteen and Owen Williams to the wing. The Blues add experience to the young team with Ceri Sweeny starting at ten.
Zebre: 15 David Odiete, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Gonzalo Garcia (capt), 12 Samuele Pace, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Nicola Cattina, 6 Filippo Ferrarini, 5 Filippo Cazzola, 4 Josh Sole, 3 David Ryan, 2 Andrea Manici, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements:16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Luca Redolfini, 19 Emiliano Caffini, 20 Filippo Cristiano, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Paolo Buso, 23 Ruggero Trevisan
Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Owen Williams, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Tom James, 10 Ceri Sweeney, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Josh Navidi (capt), 6 Rory Watts-Jones, 5 James Down, 4 Macauley Cook, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Rhys Williams, 1 Nathan Trevett
Replacements: 16 Marc Breeze, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Benoit Bourrust, 19 Michael Paterson, 20 Andries Pretorius, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Tom Williams
What they said...
Zebre sporting director Robert Manghi
"The Zebre are born from a group of youngsters who need experience. They represent the best Italian players that we could put together and grow to be as competitive as possible.
"These youngsters are giving us a lot of satisfaction, improving week on week. Unfortunately the results aren't coming because there is still something lacking when we come up against squads structured like Ulster who played in the Heineken Cup final last year and is unbeaten this season.
"On the pitch we were pretty even and already this result is important in the perspective of our future. Of course it's nicer to come off the pitch with a smile after a win rather than having lost in the dying minutes."
Cardiff's director of rugby Phil Davies
"They're a clever team, a typical Italian team in some ways. They have a strong set piece and a very clever re-start game. They keep the ball well and they have a clever kicker who orchestrates the game superbly.
"All the learning we have been doing over the past few weeks needs to be shining through on Sunday in respect to us being a bit more accurate, taking the opportunities and closing the game.
"It's about approaching each match with a clear head and pushing forward."
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Guinness PRO12 Table
|Friday 27th February|
|19:35||Ospreys vs Leinster|
|19:35||Ulster vs Scarlets|
|Saturday 28th February|
|19:15||Munster vs Glasgow Warriors|
|Sunday 1st March|
|12:45||Cardiff Blues vs Edinburgh|
|17:00||Zebre vs Dragons|
|17:15||Connacht vs Treviso|
|Friday 6th March|
|19:35||Cardiff Blues vs Connacht|
|19:35||Glasgow Warriors vs Zebre|
|Saturday 7th March|
|14:40||Ospreys vs Munster|
|17:15||Scarlets vs Leinster|
|18:00||Benetton Treviso vs Edinburgh|
|Sunday 8th March|
|16:00||Dragons vs Ulster|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:35||Leinster vs Glasgow|
|19:35||Ulster vs Cardiff Blues|
|Saturday 28th March|
|TBC||Benetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|TBC||Ospreys vs Zebre|
|14:40||Scarlets vs Edinburgh|
|17:15||Munster vs Connacht|
|Friday 10th April|
|19:35||Glasgow vs Cardiff Blues|
|19:35||Benetton Treviso vs Ospreys|
|Saturday 11th April|
|TBC||Edinburgh vs Munster|
|TBC||Zebre vs Scarlets|
|14:40||Connacht vs Ulster|
|Sunday 12th April|
|16:00||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Leinster|
|Friday 24th April|
|19:35||Edinburgh vs Zebre|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|Dragons 25 - 30 Connacht|
|Saturday 21st February|
|Glasgow 19 - 16 Ospreys|
|Scarlets 25 - 25 Munster|
|Friday 20th February|
|Edinburgh 17 - 20 Ulster|
|Leinster 29 - 8 Zebre|
|Benetton Treviso 40 - 24 Cardiff Blues|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Leinster 14 - 16 Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Zebre 10 - 54 Glasgow|
|Scarlets 32 - 14 Connacht|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Munster 33 - 16 Cardiff Blues|
|Friday 13th February|
|Edinburgh 24 - 16 Ospreys|
|Ulster 43 - 3 Benetton Treviso|
|Sunday 11th January|
|Ospreys 22 - 11 Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Benetton Treviso 20 - 24 Ulster|
|Saturday 10th January|
|Zebre 7 - 31 Munster|
|Cardiff Blues 13 - 22 Leinster|
|Friday 9th January|
|Connacht 13 - 16 Edinburgh|
|Glasgow 22 - 7 Scarlets|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com