Thursday, 17 October 2013

Toby's Tigers Ton Up

Tigers make three changes to the starting line up that last Friday conceded defeat to Ulster.  In the forwards Graham Kitchener and Thomas Waldrom replace Louis Deacon and Jordan Crane who take their places on the bench; the other change sees Californian winger Blaine Scully recover from injury to oust Miles Benjamin from the wing.  Benjamin was rusty in Belfast after so long out but needs must and he gave a Tigers effort in trying circumstances.  He will be back, he will be better.

The changes see Tigers lose some direct power in the tight exchanges but Kitchener and Waldrom are far more dynamic carriers, with Kitchener's pace also a terrific asset in defence.

Tigers M.I.A. list contains internationals Marcos Ayerza, Tom Croft, Steve Mafi, Pablo Matera, Anthony Allen, Manu Tuilagi, Scott Hamilton and Mat Tait.  8 internationals and 7 of those would be key men in the 23.  The injuries are a staggering as they are varied.  Anthony Allen ruled out with what was essentially a rotting thigh muscle.  Lovely.

Captain Toby Flood will be making his 100 appearance for the clubs since his debut away to Gloucester in 2008.  Logovi'i Mulpola at Loosehead makes his 50 appearance for the First XV whilst Thomas Waldrom makes his 75th start in the back row.

Treviso come to Welford Road for the 4th time in 6 seasons.  This ties the Ospreys for the most common group stage opponent in the history of Heineken Cup.  An ample demonstration of both the stagnation of European Rugby thanks to "Regions" and the skewed system used to draw the pool stages which makes similar draws more likely.

Last season we beat Treviso in both games, as we have every Italian opponent in the Heineken Cup, but only by 8 points at home and by the slimmest margin, a lone point, away.  Treviso have beaten both Bath and Wasps in the past; so whilst we might remember them from their late noughties slump historically they have always been a competitive side.  At some point we will lose to them and the gloating from the London press will be deafening.  Lets make sure it is not now!

Treviso have recalled summer signing Mat Berquist at Fly Half.  Berquist hit the heights in Dan Carter's absence for the Canterbury Crusaders in 2011 but has failed to hit those standards since his transfer to Europe.  First he spent a year, mostly injured, in Dublin with Leinster then he tried the delights of the Top 14 with Biarritz.

Italy seems to be agreeing with him more as he has two tries in two starts and steered the Leoni to victory over Munster in September. 

On the wing dope smoking Japanese-Tongan winger-cum-flanker Christian Loamanu has been a power packed addition to the side since his 2012 switch from Toulon.  

The real strength of this Treviso side though is in the back five of the scrum.  Pavenello is a fantastic captain, though he can be accused of having a touch of the Borthwicks, whilst number 7 Alessandro Zanni is one of Europe's finest flankers.  At the forefront of Italy's win against France last year Zanni is not a Neil Back type at 7 but more the continental style ball carrier work horse.  Think Juan Fernandez Lobbe.  Think new Tiger Pablo Matera.

The back row is completed with two imported Italian test players; Manoa Voaswi from Fiji initially burst onto the scene with Overmarch Parma but has settled with Treviso as a yet another physical carrier.  Bob Barbieri is a Canadian Number 8 who was picked up after the incredibly scientific method of an FIR official seeing his name on a Canadian U-19s team sheet and presuming he had some qualification!  A contract in the Super 10, as it was before "regionalisation" of Italian rugby, quickly came and the allure of the 6 Nations secured him for the Azzurri. 

French referee Pascal Gauzere will referee his 4th Tigers game; all 3 previous occasions have also been against Italian sides. 

Leicester Tigers
15 Niall Morris
14 Blaine Scully
13 Vereniki Goneva
12 Dan Bowden
11 Adam Thompstone
10 Toby Flood (c)
9 Ben Youngs
1 Logovi'i Mulipola
2 Tom Youngs
3 Dan Cole
4 Graham Kitchener
5 Geoff Parling
6 Ed Slater
7 Julian Salvi
8 Thomas Waldrom

16 Neil Briggs
17 Boris Stankovich
18 Fraser Balmain
19 Louis Deacon
20 Jordan Crane
21 David Mele
22 Owen Williams
23 Terrence Hepetema

Benetton Treviso
15 Luke McLean
14 Andrea Pratichetti
13 Luca Morisi
12 Alberto Sgarbi
11 Christian Loamanu
10 Mat Berquist
9 Tobias Botes
1 Michele Rizzo
2 Enrico Ceccato
3 Lorenzo Cittadini
4 Antonio Pavanello (c)
5Valerio Bernabo
6 Manoa Vosawai
7 Alessandro Zanni
8 Robert Barbieri

16 Franco Sbaraglini
17 Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet
18 Pedro di Santo
19 Marco Fuser
20 Dean Budd
21 Marco Filippucci
22 Fabio Semenzato
23 James Ambrosini

Referee: Pascal Gauzere
TV: Sky Sports 1 Red Button

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