Cardiff name team for Zebre clash as talented younger brother of Wales international returns

Cardiff Rugby have named talented young back Mason Grady in their matchday squad for the first time in more than 12 months to face Zebre Parma on Friday night at Cardiff Arms Park (7.35pm kick-off).

The rescheduled United Rugby Championship clash is the Welsh region’s last home game of the season where Dai Young’s men will target their first win since victory over Glasgow on March 26. Four defeats have followed: two to the Scarlets, one to the Ospreys and it was a loss away to Munster last time out. However, the hosts will be bidding to return to winning ways for the occasion which will also mark Seb Davies’ 100th first-team appearance and Rhys Carre’s 50th.

Grady, 20, impressed in Cardiff RFC’s title run-in and is named in the first-team squad for the first time since suffering a knee injury in March 2021. The little brother of Wales international Cory Allen is a strapping centre come wing who represented Wales U20s aged just 17 and made his regional debut in November 2020 before his season was cut short prematurely.

Davies links up with Matthew Screech in the second row, while Carre is joined by Liam Belcher and Dmitri Arhip in the front row. Josh Navidi continues as captain in an unchanged back row, with Rhys Priestland and Matthew Morgan coming into the back-line to replace the injured Jarrod Evans and Hallam Amos respectively. Kirby Myhill is set to reach a century of United Rugby Championship appearances if he comes off the bench, as Teddy Williams, Ellis Bevan and Ben Thomas are all welcomed back into the matchday squad.

As for Zebre, Franco Smith Jr. will make his debut if called upon from the replacements bench and Ross Vintcent will make his first appearance for the side.

Cardiff boss Young said: “First of all, we must congratulate Seb and Rhys for reaching these milestones. They have enjoyed some good individual form in recent weeks and it would be great if they could celebrate with a win.

“We have been very disappointed with our results and performances in the last month or so and we are determined to get back to winning ways in our final home game of the season. It is vitally important to us that we put in the required performance to get a result and say thank you to our fans for their support this season.

“We certainly won’t be taking Zebre lightly, they had a good win last week and have run some very good teams close so we will need to execute our game-plan and be accurate in all areas of the pitch and for 80 minutes. The injuries have begun to mount after so many consecutive weeks of rugby, on the back of so few, but we are all focussed on a positive end to the season and it also gives some of our younger players further opportunities.”

After Zebre, Cardiff will face the Dragons at Rodney Parade on May 13 and travel to Benetton for May 20.

Cardiff Rugby: 15. Matthew Morgan; 14. Owen Lane, 13. Rey Lee-Lo, 12. Max Llewellyn, 11. Theo Cabango; 10. Rhys Priestland, 9. Lloyd Williams; 1. Rhys Carré, 2. Liam Belcher, 3. Dmitri Arhip, 4. Seb Davies, 5. Matthew Screech, 6. James Botham, 7. Josh Navidi (capt), 8. James Ratti.

Replacements: 16. Kirby Myhill, 17. Corey Domachowski, 18. Dillon Lewis, 19. Teddy Williams, 20. Ellis Jenkins, 21. Ellis Bevan, 22. Ben Thomas, 23. Mason Grady.

Zebre Parma : 15. Michelangelo Biondelli, 14. Junior Laloifi, 13. Erich Cronjé, 12. Franco Smith Jr, 11. Simone Gesi, 10. Timothy O’Malley, 9. Chris Cook, 1. Paolo Buonfiglio, 2. Luca Bigi, 3. Ion Neculai, 4. David Sisi (capt), 5. Andrea Zambonin, 6. Luca Andreani, 7. Maxime Mbandà, 8. Jimmy Tuivaiti.

Replacements : 16. Massimo Ceciliani, 17. Juan Pitinari, 18. Eduardo Bello, 19. Gabriele Venditti, 20. Ross Vintcent, 21. Nicolò Casilio, 22. Carlo Canna, 23. Lorenzo Pani.

Referee: Ben Blain (SRU)

Assistant referees Simon Rees and Carwyn Williams (WRU)

TMO: Ian Davies (WRU)


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