Much-changed line-up for Ulster on welcome trip to sunny Parma

URC preview: Meeting with Zebre is first competitive start for scrum-half Nathan Doak

Ulster’s Nathan Doak beats Fraser Brown of Glasgow Warriors to score his side’s fifth try in their URC game at Kingspan Stadium on September 24th. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ulster’s Nathan Doak beats Fraser Brown of Glasgow Warriors to score his side’s fifth try in their URC game at Kingspan Stadium on September 24th. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

ZEBRE v ULSTER
Saturday October 2
Venue: Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma.
Kick-off: 6.15pm local time/5.15pm Irish.
On TV: Live on Premier Sports 2 and URC TV.

Ulster’s hugely promising 19-year-old scrum-half, Nathan Doak, will make his first competitive start in a much-changed line-up from the 35-29 bonus point win at home to Glasgow last week.

Doak, who scored his first senior try in his third appearance off the bench, replaces the hamstrung John Cooney. With Robert Baloucoune, Jacob Stockdale and Stuart McCloskey joining a lengthy injury list, Dan McFarland makes 10 changes to the starting line-up.

Ethan McIlroy moves from full-back to the left wing, with Craig Gilroy on the right wing and Will Addison at full-back. Stewart Moore forms a talented young midfield alongside James Hume.

A new front row of Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring and Tom O’Toole, along with lock Mick Kearney, blindside Matty Rea and number eight David McCann, come into the pack. Callum Reid, David Shanahan and Ben Moxham are all promoted to the bench.

For his 100th match in charge of Zebre, Michael Bradley has made five changes from the side beaten at home last week by the Lions, with a debut on the wing for Asaeli Tuivuaka. The 25-year-old Fijian, aka The Tank, has hitherto been a sevens specialist, scoring a try in his country’s win over New Zealand in the Tokyo final when they retained their men’s sevens gold medal.

Ulster have won 13 of their previous 15 meetings with Zebre, and by an average score of 45-8 in their last four contests, while the Italians have lost their last nine matches. But Bradley’s team will take heart from their response to falling 38-0 down shortly after the interval last week by scoring 26 unanswered points.

Ulster should be grateful for the trek to Parma, where the forecast weather of sunshine and temperatures in the low 20s is a far cry from elsewhere in the URC this weekend.

ZEBRE PARMA: Junior Laloifi, Gabriele Di Giulio, Giulio Bisegni (Capt), Tommaso Boni, Asaeli Tuivuaka, Carlo Canna, Alessandro Fusco, Danilo Fischetti, Luca Bigi, Matteo Nocera, David Sisi, Leonard Krumov, Maxime Mbanda, Potu Junior Leavasa, Giovanni Licata.
Replacements: Oliviero Fabiani, Andrea Lovotti, Ion Neculai, Andrea Zambonin, Renato Giammarioli, Guglielmo Palazzani, Antonio Rizzi, Jacopo Trulla.

ULSTER RUGBY: Will Addison, Craig Gilroy, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, Nathan Doak, Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor (Capt), Mick Kearney, Matty Rea, Nick Timoney, David McCann.
Replacements: Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Marty Moore, Sam Carter, Sean Reidy, David Shanahan, Mike Lowry, Ben Moxham.

Referee: Sam Grove-White (SRU).

Betting (Paddy Power): 11/2 Zebre, 25/1 Draw, 1/8 Ulster. Handicap odds (Zebre +15 pts) 10/11 Zebre, 20/1 Draw, 10/11 Ulster.

Forecast: Ulster to win.

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