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Author

Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Friday, October 12th 2018

Preview: Bristol Bears v Zebre

Bristol Bears will kick off their European Challenge Cup campaign against Italian Pro14 side, Zebre at Ashton Gate on Saturday.

Pat Lam's side head into the game off the back of a heavy defeat to Worcester Warriors at Sixways last weekend, while Zebre are on a three-game losing streak in the Pro14, going down to Dragons, Ospreys and Glasgow in successive weeks, after beating Cardiff Blues in round three.

Here's your big match preview ahead of Saturday's clash:


Last time out:

Bristol 61 Parma 14, Sat, Oct 21st 2000, Memorial Stadium

Zebre Rugby was only formed ahead of the 2012/13 campaign, but Bristol did take on Parma, where the club is now based, in October 2000.

It was a Felipe Contepomi inspired victory for Bristol, who ran out 61-14 winners, running in seven tries in the process.

The Argentine fly-half touched down, as did current Academy and Transition coach, Sean Marsden. Luke Nabaro, Jamie Mayer, Eduardo Simone, Adam Vander and David Rees also scored.

Contepomi also added seven conversions and four penalties to finish with a remarkable 31-point haul.

Bristol:
Tries: Marsden, Mayer, Simone, Nabaro, Vander, Contepomi, Rees
Con: Contepomi (7)
Pen: Contepomi (4)


Head-to-head:

Alapati Leiua

The powerful Somoan is Bristol Bears' leading try scorer this season with four in five appearances. 

Leiua crossed for the winning try against Bath on the opening day of the season, before scoring a brace at Allianz Park and a late consolation against Northampton Saints. 

Mattia Bellini

Bellini can operate at centre and wing, and lines up on the right wing on Saturday.

The 14-cap Italian international, who has also represented his country at Sevens, has electrifying pace and could prove a handful for Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate. 


Nick Haining

Haining makes his first competitive start of the season against Zebre, having featured off the bench three times in the Gallagher Premiership. 

The former Jersey back-row scored his first Gallagher Premiership try against Saracens at Allianz Park. 

David Sisi

English number eight, David Sisi - who has played for both London Irish and Bath in the Premiership, and for England U20 - made the move to Zebre in 2017.  

Sisi, who was born in Germany, has also represented London Scottish and Yorkshire Carnegie during loan spells. 


Word from the camps:

Pat Lam

"Zebre will provide a huge challenge. They are just getting better and better every year. They ran Glasgow close recently and with ten minutes to go.

"The boys are under no illusions – if we are not on our game again, and if we’re not collective as a team, we’ll get exposed."

Michael Bradley

"Last week came a very bad performance for Bristol (the defeat at Worcester for 52-7). I expect that coach Pat Lam will put out the best team to immediately reverse this result. 

"For us it will be an important challenge to test our real improvements in a competition that will see us engaged with the same opponent seven days later at the Lanfranchi Stadium ".


Form guide:

Successive defeats to Northampton Saints (40-45) and Worcester Warriors (52-7) halted Bristol Bears' momentum after a 20-13 victory over Harlequins at Ashton Gate. 

Pat Lam's Bears sit in 10th place in the Gallagher Premiership with two wins from the opening six rounds.

Their last appearance in the European Challenge Cup saw them beat Top14 side, Pau home and away but fail to qualify from their group.

Zebre made a barnstorming start to the Pro14 season with two wins from their opening three games, as they beat Southern Kings and Cardiff Blues either side of a defeat to Connacht.

But they have lost their last three league games, going down to Dragons, Ospreys and Glasgow Warriors.

Bristol Bears: WLL
Zebre: LLL


Weather forecast

Met Office says: 

Another windy day with heavy rain at times and possible flooding in the west. Some brighter interludes are possible in the east and despite the wind, it will be warm. Maximum temperature 21 °C.


How to buy tickets:

Tickets are available to purchase online now by clicking here, or via supporter services on 0117 963 0600.


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