Ulster's Marshall plans for better defence
As Rory Best returns to captain Ulster in tonight’s Guinness Pro12 clash against Zebre in the first of two clashes against the minnows this month, scrum-half Paul Marshall has called on his side to tighten up.
“We don’t want to concede anywhere near that many points again this weekend,” said Marshall, whose side were involved in a thrilling 32-32 draw at Scarlets last weekend.
“Hopefully some of the good attacking we had last weekend will stand to us and see us try and kick on again with that this week.
“If we can score four tries again we shouldn’t be drawing those games but winning them.
“Zebre had a great game against Cardiff and will be disappointed to have not taken anything from it.”
Best is one of eight changes to the side that drew in Wales, the hooker joined in the front-row by Andrew Warwick, with Wiehahn Herbst retaining his place at tighthead prop.
Dan Tuohy also keeps his place and is partnered at lock by Lewis Stevenson.
Nick Williams comes into the side at No 8 and is joined by Robbie Diack and Chris Henry.
Darren Cave makes his first start of the season and with Luke Marshall forms an experienced midfield partnership.
Andrew Trimble and full-back Ricky Andrew come into the back three alongside Craig Gilroy, while Marshall and Ian Humphreys will combine at half-back once more.
Ulster’s only victory in their last five league encounters was 19-17 at Munster at the tail end of last season, and they haven’t lost successive league games in Belfast for four years.
The Ulstermen’s only previous defeat to an Italian opponent in any tournament came at home to Treviso in October 2011.
Zebre, meanwhile have slipped to successive defeats, at Glasgow and at home to Cardiff Blues, while their only previous away victory came at Cardiff this time last season.
Ulster have won all four previous contests against Zebre, although the Italians have garnered two losing bonus points and a try bonus point along the way.
Ulster – R Andrew; A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, C Gilroy; I Humphreys, P Marshall; A Warwick, R Best (cpt), W Herbst, L Stevenson, D Tuohy, R Diack, C Henry, N Williams. Reps: R Herring, R Murphy, B Ross, F van der Merwe, R Wilson, M Heaney, S Olding, L Ludik.
Zebre – H Daniller; D Odiete, G Bisegni, G Garcia, G Toniolatti; K Haimona, B Leonard; A De Marchi, A Manici, D Chistolini, A Ferreira, G Biagi, M Bergamasco, F Cristiano, A Van Schalkwyk. Reps: O Fabiani, A Lovotti, L Leibson, V Bernabo, Q Geldenhuys, S Vunisa, G Palazzani, E Padovani.
Ref – L Hodges (WRU).