Banner image


Will Carpenter


Posted Friday, January 17th 2020

Preview: Zebre (a) - European Challenge Cup

Bristol Bears head to Parma for the final round European Challenge Cup pool fixtures, knowing victory over Zebre would seal top seed for the knockout stages. 

The Bears are unbeaten in the competition so far, with 24 points from a possible 25 and sitting top of Pool Four. Last weekend's bonus-point win over Zebre at Ashton Gate secured a home quarter final for Pat Lam's men, as they ran in seven tries to blow away the Top 14 side.

Zebre can still qualify for the last eight, but need all five points from Saturday's clash to stand any chance of progressing.

Everything you need to know ahead of Saturday's European Challenge Cup clash with Zebre at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

Match details:

  • Date: Saturday, January 18th
  • Kick-off: 2pm (GMT)
  • Competition: European Challenge Cup
  • Where: Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
  • Referee: Thomas Charabas (France), ARs: Laurent Cardona (France) & Vivien Praderie (France)
  • Media coverage: Live stream available here on matchday
  • Tickets: Click here to purchase tickets for Saturday's game in Parma

Team news

Henry Purdy is included in the matchday squad and could make his competitive debut from the bench as Bristol Bears aim for top seeding in the European Challenge Cup on Saturday (3pm KO).

Director of Rugby Pat Lam makes eight changes to the side that overcame Brive last weekend and secured a home quarter final in the process.

Bristol – who have won all five of their pool stage fixtures so far – can secure the first seed with victory at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

Toby Fricker, Andy Uren and Ian Madigan come into the backline for the pool four encounter, while Will Capon, Lewis Thiede, Ed Holmes, Jake Heenan and Nathan Hughes are named in the pack.

Bristol Bears team to face Zebre at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on Saturday, January 18th (2pm KO GMT):

15. Mat Protheroe; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Alapati Leiua, 12. Ian Madigan, 11. Toby Fricker; 10. Callum Sheedy (co-capt), 9. Andy Uren; 1. Jake Woolmore, 2. Will Capon, 3. Lewis Thiede, 4. Ed Holmes, 5. Joe Joyce, 6. Luke Hamilton, 7. Jake Heenan (co-capt), 8. Nathan Hughes.

Replacements: 16. Harry Thacker, 17. Ollie Dawe, 18. Nicky Thomas, 19. John Hawkins, 20. Steven Luatua, 21. Harry Randall, 22. Henry Purdy, 23. Tom Pincus.


15. Junior Laloifi, 14. Paula Balekana, 13. Giulio Bisegni ©, 12. Tommaso Boni, 11. Mattia Bellini, 10. Carlo Canna, 9. Marcello Violi; 1. Andrea Lovotti, 2. Luca Bigi, 3. Giosué Zilocchi, 4. David Sisi, 5. Ian Nagle, 6. Giovanni Licata, 7. Johan Meyer, 8. Jimmy Tuivaiti.

Replacements: 16. Oliviero Fabiani, 17. Danilo Fischetti, 18. Eduardo Bello, 19. Mick Kearney, 20. Renato Giammarioli, 21. Joshua Renton, 22. Edoardo Padovani, 23. George Biagi.

Last time out

Bristol Bears 59-21 | Saturday, November 16th | European Challenge Cup

Ioan Lloyd steered the ship with a 22-point haul as Bristol Bears kicked off their European Challenge Cup campaign with an eight-try thrashing of Zebre at Ashton Gate.

The 18-year-old, making his first competitive start for the club, added seven conversions and a penalty to a sensational first half try in a flawless kicking display from the fly half, as Pat Lam’s men made it five wins from five at home this season.

Will Capon and Toby Fricker struck in the space of three minutes to cancel out Mattia Bellini’s seventh-minute score, before Piers O’Conor, Lloyd and Dan Thomas ensured the bonus point was wrapped up inside 26 minutes.

Bristol were forced to play 20 minutes with just 14 men after yellow cards to Ed Holmes and James Dun, and Zebre hit back through Apisai Tauyavuca and a penalty try.

But Yann Thomas, Charlie Powell and Andy Uren took the hosts past the 50-point mark late on, to seal an emphatic win in front of nearly 11,000 supporters.

Read the full report here.

Word from the camp

Pat Lam says his side must continue their winning streak in the European Challenge Cup as Bears set their sights on securing the top seed in the competition.

The Director of Rugby previewed the clash with Zebre in the final round of pool stages at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

Subscribe to Bristol Bears TV by clicking here.


Form guide

Having already sealed a home quarter-final in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, Pool Four winners Bristol Bears will be aiming for a top-two seeding when they travel to Zebre Rugby Club on Saturday.

However, the Italian club also have plenty to fight for, as a bonus-point win would put them in with a chance of reaching the last eight as one of the three best runners-up.

Key facts

  • All three previous Challenge Cup games between the clubs have been won by the home team.
  • Bristol have won both their away ties in the competition this season, but they have never done the hat-trick.
  • Bristol top the tournament’s charts for points (202), metres (2,647), breaks (90) and defenders beaten (180) this term.
  • No Challenge Cup side have made more tackles than Zebre (751) this season.

Bristol Bears: LLW
Zebre: LWW


Luke Hamilton vs Giovanni Licata

Hamilton put in an impressive display against Brive at Ashton Gate, scoring his first try for the club in a standout performance from the back row. 

Alapati Leiua vs Guilio Bisegni

The Samoan powerhouse powered over for a try against Brive at Ashton Gate - and the versatile back lines up at outside centre against Zebre this weekend.  

Statto's corner

  • Bristol have won both their away ties in the competition this season, but they have never done the hat-trick.
  • Bristol top the tournament’s charts for points (202), metres (2,647), breaks (90) and defenders beaten (180) this term.
  • Henry Purdy set for club debut off the bench
Henry Purdy set for his competitive debut for Bristol Bears.