PRO14: Teams up for Ulster v Zebre

Published Categorised as 2020-21, PRO14, Provincial Rugby Men, Ulster Rugby, Zebre Rugby Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Ethan McIlroy gets a run out at fullback for Ulster Rugby © John McMurtry | The Front Row Union

Seven changes have been made for Ulster’s final Guinness PRO14 team of the season as they welcome Zebre to Ravenhill tomorrow night (kick off 8.15pm).

Cormac Izuckukwu makes his first start while there are recalls for Marty Moore, Jordi Murphy, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume and John Cooney. Ethan McIlroy will make his first start at 15 for Ulster tomorrow night.

Despite a youthful element to the side, it’s still a strong side that Dan McFarland has named with preparations underway for the Challenge Cup match against Harlequins in two weeks time.

Outside of John Cooney, the oldest member of Ulster's back line tomorrow is Rob Lyttle at 24 years and 50 days. Throw in Cormac Izuchukwu (21), David McCann (20), Callum Reid (22), Tom O'Toole (22) and Ben Moxham (19), you'll get a real glimpse into the future tomorrow #ULSvZEB

Originally tweeted by Adam McKendry (@admckendry) on March 18, 2021.

The opposition

Zebre are rock bottom of Ulster’s conference with just 4 wins all season, coming against Ospreys in round 4, Benetton in rounds 9 and 10 as well as the Dragons in round 13. They’ve scored the least number of tries (22) in the league while Ulster inflicted a heavy 57-14 defeat on them in round 6.

I’m not expecting a lot from them tomorrow having seen their team. Talented out half Antonio Rizzi is well thought of, but starts on the bench tomorrow with Paolo Pescetto the preferred option.

Tommaso Boni is the only internationally capped player in the backline while Guglielmo Palazzani provides 40 caps off the bench. There’s an Irish flavour to their lock pairing with ex Ulster player Ian Nagle partnering Mick Kearney. Nagle made 11 appearances for Ulster during his loan spell in 2018-19.

26-2-17PRO12Stadio Sergio LanfranchiSean Gallagher4014
11-3-17PRO12RavenhillIan Davies6821
30-9-17PRO14Stadio Sergio LanfranchiMike Adamson2327
23-2-19PRO14RavenhillMike Adamson547
1-11-19PRO14RavenhillSam Grove-White227
16-11-20PRO14Stadio Sergio LanfranchiBen Whitehouse5714
Zebre have recorded two home wins against Ulster, with the first coming in September 2014. They’ve never defeated Ulster away from home.

The man in the middle

Andrew Brace will referee his second Ulster match of the season tomorrow evening. It will be the 13th time he’s officiated the northern province since his first match – a 22-12 loss away to the Scarlets in September 2015 but it will be the first he’s reffed between these two sides.

12-9-20PRO14LeinsterLansdowne Road527
Ulster have lost 6/12 times they have reffed by Andrew Brace and four of those defeats have come in the last five matches. I can’t see Ulster adding to the defeats column tomorrow night.


Ethan McIlroy15Gabriele Di Giulio
Robert Baloucoune14Pierre Bruno
James Hume13Tommaso Boni
Stewart Moore12Enrico Lucchin
Rob Lyttle11Jamie Elliott
Michael Lowry10Paolo Pescetto
John Cooney9Joshua Renton
Eric O’Sullivan1Paolo Buonfiglio
John Andrew2Massimo Ceciliani
Marty Moore3Matteo Nocera
Cormac Izuchukwu4Mick Kearney
Kieran Treadwell5Ian Nagle
Sean Reidy6Iacopo Bianchi
Jordi Murphy (C)7Lorenzo Masselli
David McCann8Potu Junior Leavasa
Brad Roberts16Marco Manfredi
Callum Reid17Daniele Rimpelli
Tom O’Toole18Eduardo Bello
Alan O’Connor19Leonard Krumov
Matty Rea20Charles Alaimalo
David Shanahan21Nicolò Casilio
Ian Madigan22Guglielmo Palazzani
Ben Moxham23Antonio Rizzi

The FRU Predicts: I think Ulster will win this by at least 30 points. In the last five matches at Ravenhill between these sides leaves a total score of 209 – 48 and looking at both the team sheets, I can’t see Zebre coming close to Ulster.

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