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Will Carpenter


Posted Friday, November 15th 2019

Preview: Zebre (h) - European Challenge Cup

Bristol Bears kick off their European Challenge Cup campaign against Zebre on Saturday, as the Italians head to Ashton Gate for the second successive season.

Pat Lam's men signed off the first Gallagher Premiership block with a sensational comeback victory against Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park, leaving them top of the table after four rounds. 

Zebre are currently winless in Conference A of the Pro 14, having lost six out of six matches. 

Here's everything you need to know ahead of Saturday's clash at Ashton Gate.

Match details:

  • Date: Saturday, November 16th
  • Kick-off: 3pm
  • Competition: European Challenge Cup
  • Where: Ashton Gate
  • Referee: Ludovic Cayre (FRA), ARs: Julien Castaignede & Pierre-Baptiste Nuchy, No.4: Peter Brunt, No.5: Andy Weymouth
  • Media coverage: BBC Radio Bristol 
  • Tickets: If you're heading to Ashton Gate on Saturday, click here for tickets. This game is included on your Season Card.

Team news

Ioan Lloyd will make his first competitive start for the club when Bristol face Zebre on Saturday (3pm KO).

The Academy fly half is one of nine changes to Pat Lam’s side as Bears kick off their European Challenge Cup campaign at Ashton Gate.

John Afoa (calf), Jake Heenan (ankle), Steven Luatua (hip) and Nathan Hughes (finger) are ruled out following the victory over Exeter Chiefs, while Luke Daniels (shoulder) will be sidelined for six months following surgery.

Toby Fricker is included in the only other change to the backline, while Yann Thomas, homegrown Will Capon and Max Lahiff form the new-look front row.

Bristol Bears team to face Zebre at Ashton Gate on Saturday, November 16th (3pm KO):

15. Charles Piutau; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Piers O’Conor, 12. Siale Piutau (c), 11. Toby Fricker; 10. Ioan Lloyd, 9. Harry Randall; 1. Yann Thomas, 2. Will Capon, 3. Max Lahiff, 4. Ed Holmes, 5. Joe Joyce, 6. Chris Vui, 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Luke Hamilton.

Replacements: 16. Harry Thacker, 17. James Lay, 18. Lewis Thiede, 19. John Hawkins, 20. James Dun, 21. Andy Uren, 22. Callum Sheedy, 23. Charlie Powell.

Zebre Rugby:

15. Edoardo Padovani, 14. Pierre Bruno, 13. Giulio Bisegni, 12. Tommaso Boni, 11. Mattia Bellini, 10. Carlo Canna, 9. Marcello Violi; 1. Danilo Fischetti, 2. Marco Manfredi, 3. Giosuè Zilocchi, 4. David Sisi, 5. George Biagi (c), 6. Maxime Mbandà, 7. Apisai Tauyavuca, 8. Renato Giammarioli.

Replacements: 16. Oliviero Fabiani, 17. Daniele Rimpelli, 18. Eduardo Bello, 19. Leonard Krumov, 20. Lorenzo Masselli, 21. Guglielmo Palazzani, 22. Michelangelo Biondelli, 23. James Elliott.

Last time out

Saturday, October 20th 2018 | Zebre 20-17 Bristol Bears | European Challenge Cup

Bristol Bears were sunk by a last-gasp penalty goal to leave Parma empty handed in the European Challenge Cup.

Pat Lam’s men – who scored two first half tries through Tom Pincus - went down 20-17 to Zebre in a tightly contested encounter..

Read the full report here.

Word from the camp

Pat Lam insists Bristol Bears must make winning a habit as the European Challenge Cup gets underway on Saturday (3pm KO).

Bristol face Italian counterparts Zebre in pool four at Ashton Gate and the Director of Rugby is targeting silverware in the competition.

Subscribe to Bristol Bears TV by clicking here.

Form guide

Bristol Bears will be wanting history to repeat itself when they entertain Zebre Rugby Club for the second successive season in the pool stage of the European Rugby Challenge Cup on Saturday.

The English club have won all five of their home games against Italian opposition in the competition, including last season’s 43-22 try fest at Ashton Gate against Zebre.

Last season, Zebre won three of their six pool fixtures in the Challenge Cup for only the second time, the first being in 2015/16.

Bristol made the most carries (160), clean breaks (17.1) and passes (212) per game in the Challenge Cup, averaging the longest time in possession of any team in the process (20 minutes 50 seconds).

Zebre’s Carlo Canna was the second top scorer in the 2018/19 Challenge Cup with 59 from four tries, 12 conversions and five penalties.

Referee: Ludovic Cayre (FRA), ARs: Julien Castaignede & Pierre-Baptiste Nuchy, No.4: Peter Brunt, No.5: Andy Weymouth

Bristol Bears: LWW
Zebre: LLL


Joe Joyce vs David Sisi

Homegrown lock, Joe Joyce is recalled for this Challenge Cup opener at Ashton Gate and goes head-to-head with former Bath and England U20 forward, David Sisi.

Ioan Lloyd vs Carlo Canna

A first senior competitive start for Ioan Lloyd on Saturday, who faces off with Italian international Carlo Canna. Lloyd has made a blistering start to life in professional rugby, with two tries from three appearances in the Gallagher Premiership. 

Statto's corner

  • Will Capon, Luke Hamilton, and Ioan Lloyd make their first competitive starts for Bristol Bears
  • Will Capon, Toby Fricker, Luke Hamilton, Max Lahiff, Ioan Lloyd, Luke Morahan and Charles Piutau will make their European debuts for Bristol Bears. James Dun will also be a debut if used off bench.
  • Four current Academy and four Academy graduates in matchday 23