Cardiff Blues 31 - 25 Benetton Rugby
Fri 16 March 19:35 Cardiff Arms Park Att: 4,782 Ref: John Lacey Guinness Pro14

Preview: Cardiff Blues v Benetton Rugby

Fri 16 Mar 2018 12:01 Preview: Cardiff Blues v Benetton Rugby
Both sides head into the clash in good form, as Danny Wilson’s side go into the encounter on the back of five consecutive victories in PRO14 and European fixtures and their opponents claiming five Championship victories in the last six fixtures.

The Blues will hope to make it back-to-back victories over Italian opposition, after claiming a narrow win over Zebre last time out.

They’ve been boosted by the return of Matthew Morgan, Willis Halaholo and Kristian Dacey, with all three recovering from a lengthy spell on the treatment table.

Morgan and Halaholo immediately slot into the starting XV, as two of six changes, alongside Macauley Cook, Gethin Jenkins, Nick Williams and Taufa’ao Filise.

Tomos Williams, Ellis Jenkins and Seb Davies have all been released from Wales duty and take their place on the bench.

Meanwhile, Benetton have included in-form backs, Marty Banks and Monty Ioane, in their line-up for the clash.

Ioane has been in blistering try-scoring form, with six tries in four games, including a hat-trick in the win over defending champions, Scarlets.

Several Italian internationals are unavailable for Kieran Crowley’s side, as they compete in the final game of the NatWest 6 Nations against Scotland on Saturday.

What They Said

The Cardiff Arms Park crowd could play a pivotal role in tonight's crucial Guinness PRO14, according to Danny Wilson.

 "This is a huge game for us in terms of the make-up of the home stretch. To get as many Cardiff Blues fans to the Arms Park on Friday is going to be really important to us in terms making sure we maintain this momentum, heading into the real business end of the season.

"Wins obviously breed confidence and we've won seven out of the last nine games. 

"We've won three of the block of four PRO14 games that we targeted up to this point, with this one remaining to go four out of four. 

"We just managed to get the win out in Zebre last time out, which was a great achievement considering those conditions and the quality of the opposition.

"Now we need to do the double over the Italian sides by winning against Treviso on Friday night, but we know it's going to be a tough game. 

"It's a tough five games remaining, but it's five games we see as an opportunity to catch the Cheetahs.

"We've said over the last month that we're looking up, trying to catch the Cheetahs and trying to get to that play-off positions, which would be a massive achievement for us, considering the season.

"But it's a minimum standard for us to qualify for the Champions Cup, which is going to be a challenge with the other sides close on our heels, but I think, with the quarter final in Europe also to come, there is plenty to play for and plenty to be positive about."

Lloyd Williams insists Cardiff Blues must be "on-the-money" if they are to continue their impressive winning streak in the Guinness PRO14.

"The last three games have been great for us. We've won and that's really given us a chance in the Championship, and now we now how important this last quarter of the season is," said Williams.

"We're still at the stage where we're competing in the PRO14 and in Europe, so every game will be important for us. We want to continue winning.

"We've got confidence and we're on a bit of a run at the moment. But we're equally aware that the run can come to an end if we're not on the money.

"We made the quarter final last year as well and there was such a buzz around the game against Gloucester, as well as Judgement Day. They're big games and as a player you're naturally up for it.

"As long as there is something to play for, it's easy to sustain your motivation, and we're really hoping to kick on over the next few weeks. We'll take each week as it comes and hopefully thing will keep going well."