Cardiff Blues 30 - 24 Zebre
Fri 28 April 19:05 Cardiff Arms Park Att: 4,737 Ref: Frank Murphy Guinness Pro12

Preview: Cardiff Blues v Zebre

Fri 28 Apr 2017 11:01 Preview: Cardiff Blues v Zebre
In the penultimate round of PRO12 action, the Blues will be aiming to maintain momentum and confidence against the Italian outfit

They are already guaranteed a play-off for the final place in the European Champions Cup and head coach Danny Wilson wants to go into that encounter, which is likely to be in France, on the back of two wins – against Zebre and next week the Dragons in Caerphilly.

He has made three changes to the team that conquered the Ospreys on Judgement Day with Rhys Gill starting at loose-head prop, replacing Gethin Jenkins, who is unavailable due to a stiff knee.

In the backline, Aled Summerhill replaces Matthew Morgan with Rhun Williams switching to full-back.

Zebre, although bottom of the PRO12 table have enjoyed a turnaround of fortunes in the last month, with two wins from their last three matches.

Last time out they suffered a heavy defeat at Glasgow and director of rugby Gianluca Guidi has made seven changes, which sees centre Tommaso Castello captain the team for the first time.

What they said:

Despite already being guaranteed a place in the play-offs, Wilson wants to finish as high up the PRO12 table as possible.

He said: “We’re in that play-off situation, we currently sit seventh and our goal has to be finishing seventh. 

“We have two fixtures remaining and are currently one point above Connacht. Whoever we then play, we play. It leans towards going to France, which will be another huge challenge but one we will relish and look forward to.

“But for me it is about winning every game you are confronted with. We have Zebre in our last game at home, which we need and want to win, and then Dragons away in a derby, which we certainly want to win. 

“We finished seventh last year but couldn’t get out of our European group, if we finish seventh this year having reached a European quarter-final, we have picked up more wins and are slowly moving in the direction we need to be.”

Willis Halaholo played a starring role in the five-try victory over the Ospreys and he has urged his teammates to deliver the same calibre of performance against Zebre and on a consistent basis beyond.

He said: "The belief is definitely there. We need to work out what we can do worst case scenario, when injuries come along, to carry momentum on throughout the season.

"I know the great teams treat every game as a Test match. You can't fall back because it's a different game. We have to treat it just like the Ospreys and block out the noise. It is 15 v 15 and we have to get the job done.

"We want to keep the momentum going, take it game-by-game and hopefully carry that momentum into the play-off games."

Meanwhile Sion Bennett, who agreed a new long-term contract earlier this week is now looking forward to pressing his case for Cardiff Blues.

He added: “There’s a definite element of frustration because we know what performances we can give, in the last couple of games we have played really well. 

“It was really good to get that reward against the Ospreys, it hasn’t been a shock to us, we know we have that performance in us it’s just keeping that momentum and consistency.

“You can’t rest on your laurels, there’s loads of competition and I’m trying to do what I can and show what I can but at the end of the day it’s about the team and getting all the cylinders firing.”