RaboDirect Pro12: Lions Leigh Halfpenny, Toby Faletau and Jonathan Davies all return

Last Updated: 19/09/13 5:10pm

  • Share:
Leigh Halfpenny: Set to make his first appearance of the season against Zebre

Leigh Halfpenny: Set to make his first appearance of the season against Zebre

Sky Bet

Leigh Halfpenny will make his first appearance for Cardiff this season when the Blues take on Zebre in one of four RaboDirect Pro12 games on Friday.

Full-back Halfpenny has been rested since playing a starring role for the British and Irish Lions during their successful summer tour to Australia.

However he is now ready to make his comeback as one of six changes for the Blues, who have named Lewis Jones at scrum-half and also drafted in Lou Reed to replace the suspended Bradley Davies.

With Matthew Rees named amongst the replacements, Andries Pretorius will captain the hosts from from the back-row as they look to do repeat last season's double over their next opponents.

Zebre, though, proved they will be no pushovers last week, leading Munster 18-9 at the break before eventually falling to a 43-21 defeat. They make six alterations, including recalling Mauro Bergamasco.

That away success for Munster last time out means they have begun the season with two bonus-point victories - no side has ever started a Pro12 campaign with three on the spin.

They again face Italian opposition this week, travelling to Stadio Monigo to go up against Treviso. The visitors - who have only won once in Parma before - welcome back Peter O'Mahony to captain the side, while Ireland internationals Simon Zebo and Keith Earls start on the wings.

Treviso coach Franco Smith has made several changes for the visit of the two-time Heineken Cup winners; Tongan international Christian Loamanu gets the nod on the wing and Luke McClean switches to full-back.

Welsh derby

There is a Welsh derby at Rodney Parade, with the Scarlets having no fewer than eight international ranks for the clash with the Dragons.

Lions centre Jonathan Davies will make his first start of the season for the visitors, while Scotland international John Barclay gets the chance to begin the game in the back row.

Steven Shingler moves from centre to full-back as the Scarlets look to stretch their run of league wins over their compatriots to 11 matches.

The last victory for the Dragons in the fixture came on New Year's Day 2008. They do have their own Lion hungry for action in Toby Faletau, and he joins Jevon Groves and Lewis Evans in the back row.

Friday's other fixture takes place in Glasgow, with Chris Cusiter set to make his first start for the Warriors in 11 months against reigning champions Leinster.

Sean Lamont moving from centre to wing for the hosts, who have not won their opening three encounters of a season since 2002/03, and there is a place at the back of the pack for Richie Vernon.

Leinster, meanwhile, will have a new-look half-back partnership in Isaac Boss, the scrum-half having come off the bench against the Ospreys, and Jimmy Goperth, who has scored 26 points in his first two games for the province.

Cian Healy and Rob Kearney are included amongst a strong bench alongside fellow Ireland internationals Eoin Reddan and Devin Toner.

  • Share:


RaboDirect PRO12 2013/14 R2

Dan Biggar: Kicked last-gasp penalty to earn Ospreys a draw

Biggar earns Ospreys draw

Dan Biggar snatched a 29-29 draw for the Ospreys in Dublin as reigning champions Leinster let a 10-point lead slip.

Gareth Davies: Scored both tries for Scarlets

Davies stars in Scarlets win

Scrum-half Gareth Davies scored both Scarlets tries as the Welsh region recorded a 26-10 success over Treviso.

Rhys Patchell: The youngster kicked Cardiff Blues to victory at Arms Park

Patchell inspires Cardiff win

Cardiff Blues claimed their first win of the season against Connacht thanks to the boot of young fly-half Rhys Patchell.

Most Popular


Martin Tyler's stats

Martin Tyler's stats

Have any title winners won 1-0 more than Chelsea? When did Arsenal last win back-to-back at Old Trafford? Martin knows...

On Goals on Sunday...

On Goals on Sunday...

Former Sunderland boss Gus Poyet joins Ben and Kammy in the studio for this week's show.

Balague: Ronaldo now a striker

Balague: Ronaldo now a striker

Guillem Balague compares the changes made by Ronaldo and Messi, while saying Valencia want big money for Otamendi.