Cardiff Blues 25 - 18 Munster Rugby
Sat 17 February 17:30 Cardiff Arms Park Att: 6,086 Ref: Stuart Berry Guinness Pro14

Preview: Cardiff Blues v Munster Rugby

Fri 16 Feb 2018 15:18 Preview: Cardiff Blues v Munster Rugby
Danny Wilson's side began a crucial block of Guinness PRO14 fixtures with a 25-20 home victory over Toyota Cheetahs last week, with the race for European qualification heating up in Conference A.

With third-placed Cheetahs ineligible for a place on Europe's top table, only a single point separates Cardiff Blues and Connacht for the third and final Champions Cup automatic spot.

Wilson has kept faith with the side that came out on top against the South African outfit, with Taufa'ao Filise the only change made in the starting line-up, after Anton Peikrishvili was called up for international duty with Georgia.

Four of Wales' Six Nations squad members have been released for regional duties and are all included within the matchday 23.

Rhys Gill and Steven Shingler are also set to return to action following injury, and feature on the bench.

Munster have named a strong side for the trip to the Welsh capital, which includes five of Ireland's Six Nations squad members.

Ian Keatley, Rory Scannell, James Cronin, Dave Kilcoyne and John Ryan are all named in the squad, while dangerman Simon Zebo features on the bench.

Jack O'Donoghue captains the province for the first time, while South African Gerbrandt Grobler makes his full debut for the side.

What They Said

Danny Wilson believes Saturday's clash is poised to be an exciting encounter at the Welsh capital.

"We've certainly had to prepare to face two very different sides in Cheetahs and Munster," said Wilson.

"Cheetahs were very loose, in a dangerous way, with a very dangerous back three. 

"I'm not saying Munster don't have that, because they do, but they play a bit more of a power game with a strong set-piece and a very accurate kicking game, which we'll have to deal with.

"We had a very young back three on the weekend of Aled Summerhill, Owen Lane and Rhun Williams who were superb in a difficult game and in difficult conditions. All three made their mark on the game and it's good to see those youngsters coming through.

"We can put our imprint on the game, as we did against the Cheetahs, and score some good tries. Hopefully we can pick up another good win, which would be really big for us in the table.

"It does make for an exciting game. We've had a couple of good wins over the past two years against Munster and had a couple of difficult losses.

"We didn't go over there fully-loaded, away from home, earlier in the season which was a very busy period of fixtures for us."
Meanwhile, Nick Williams insists the forwards must get the upper hand over the opposition, if his side are to play their expansive gameplan on the Arms Park surface.

"We can only do what we can control and that's how we play. Everyone knows that we like to play an expansive game but that all starts up front," said Williams.

"To be able to play our game, us big boys up front will have to get a good platform for the skinny boys out back to run riot.

"It's going to be tough, there's no point beating around the bush about it, and we're not sure what the weather will do.

"These four weeks are huge in terms of where we will finish in the season, so it was a good way to start it with a win against Cheetahs last week.

"Cheetahs love to play running rugby and we knew what we were going to come up against. They're a position above us in the table so we knew a win was the only thing we wanted.

"We all know that Munster are one of the powerhouses of European rugby.

"They have a strong kicking game and have got rich boots around the back three and at 10. They'll look to kick down to our 22, and we know that once Munster get into the opposition 22 they like to play a power game. 

"They'll keep trucking and keep rolling so we'll be doing what we can to negate that on the weekend.

"It does seem to get a bit boring, but it's effective and our defensive coaches have been working hard to pick out targets for us to aim and stop the threats across the park."