Guinness Pro12: What can we expect from Zebre and Treviso in October?

Our Italian rugby expert looks ahead to rounds five and six of the PRO12 for Italy’s two professional teams…

Zebre

Who will they face?

Zebre host Ospreys and Leinster at the Stadio XXV in Parma before the European Cup break mid-way through October.

How have they done so far?

Defeated by Blues in the first match, when they allowed 17 points through errors, then thrashed by Ulster and Munster away. In the last match, first historic win on an Irish opponent, but Ulster played 70 minutes one man down (after Declan Fitzpatrick was dismissed with a straight red for punching Andrea Manici). Four points and something to cheer about, at least.

How have the opposition done so far?

League leaders Ospreys seem to be in formidable form, after a four-win streak, defeating Munster convincingly at Thomond Park on Saturday after seeing off Treviso, Newport Gwent Dragons and running in nine tries against Edinburgh.

Leinster have already lost two games, away to Glasgow Warriors and Connacht, and cannot afford to drop more points on the road if they want to keep alive their title defence, but a bonus-point win at home against Cardiff Blues last Friday helped them move up to fifth in the league, and they remain a threat.

How will Zebre do?

It has to be two defeats for the Italian franchise. They should use the two games as a test to improve their defensive performances against two teams willing to play with the ball in hand and able to switch from power to pace, and in doing so in the right time.

Benetton Treviso

Who will they face?

Treviso host Glasgow Warriors and Connacht at the Stadio Monigo.

How have they done so far?

Three heavy defeats in the first three matches against Ospreys, Munster and Scarlets, conceding 108 points and scoring just 34, with the 43-0 defeat in Llanelli as the lowest point so far. Beaten by the Dragons on Sunday, to make it four defeats out of four matches. Expected, but nevertheless painful to watch.

How have the opposition done so far?

Glasgow Warriors are the only other unbeaten team in the league after four rounds, scoring 15 tries in the process, including last weekend’s five-try win over Conancht, and are second place on points difference from the Ospreys.

Connacht have been the surprise package this season to date, with their win over Leinster sending shockwaves throughout the PRO12, while they have picked up solid wins in Newport and Edinburgh.

How will Treviso do?

Two strong opponents that will test the Treviso defence once again. It would be a surprise to see the Leoni bouncing back in less than a week and, as Warriors are in full throttle now, the way they are playing and level of pace they have shown recently, will give Treviso no chance.

The Connacht game will see the Leoni under pressure, because the Irish province are not yet perceived as a dangerous team in Italy. Everyone will expect Treviso to see them off and will be disappointed if they head back to Ireland with four or five points in the bag.

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