Gareth Anscombe is relishing his first start of the season as Cardiff Blues aim to bounce back from consecutive defeats at the death.
Following a one-point loss to Leinster in Round One of the Guinness PRO14, Anscombe came off the bench against Benetton Rugby.
It appeared as though he had steered Wales’ Capital Region to a hard-fought win with three second-half penalties but the Italian outfit claimed a controversial try during injury-time and Tommasso Allen duly converted.
Anscombe was pleased with his contribution in the encounter but would swap it all to be entering Round Three with a win already secured and he is now determined to see Cardiff Blues put their campaign back on track.
He said: “It’s nice to finally get back out there. Obviously I had 30 minutes off the bench last weekend, my return to play was a bit slower than some of the boys but it’s nice to be back taking a full part.
“Last week I would have been more satisfied if we had won. It was nice to be back out there and to get the ball in my hands but we were pretty disappointed with the way we finished the game and to allow them back in with a few of our own errors was the most disappointing thing.
“We were pretty tough on ourselves at the start of the week and we’ve had some tough training sessions so it’s vital we go to Parma now and get a win against Zebre.
“I’m hoping to make the most of my opportunity this week at 10 and for us it’s important as a team that we get a win and some points on the board to start our campaign.”
Anscombe is expecting a very different challenge to that Benetton presented and revealed the Blues have put a major focus on retaining possession and cutting the errors.
He continued: “Zebre have really improved just like Treviso but like to play with a bit of width and throw the ball around so our defence will need to be switched on.
“We need to be far more clinical when we have the ball, we’ve turned over the ball a lot this season so we’ve mainly looked at ourselves more in attack to try to cut down in those areas.
“Both teams like to use the ball but we’ve talked about how we can close their time and space down.
“If we do that we might get some turnovers and can come alive which gives the likes of Rey, Nipper, Laney and Jason some time on the ball to cause problems. Our defence will have to be pretty switched on and pretty alert because they like to throw the ball around and run from their own 22. It’s a good challenge for us, one we need at this time and hopefully one that can wake us up and get us going.”
And Anscombe is under no illusions of the importance of the encounter at Stadio Lanfranchi and returning to Cardiff Arms Park with a much-needed victory ahead of home encounters against Munster and Toyota Cheetahs.
He added: “We need a win and we have spoken this week about how it is almost must win, which is disappointing that we have to say that.
“But if we want to be where we want at the end of the season then we have to start picking up points and can’t let the leaders get too far ahead of us.
“We must win this week and then we have a couple of games at home where we need to turn the home record around.
“It’s one game at a time and this one is really important for us. You can see that in the way we have trained, there’s a bit of an edge so hopefully we front up with that edge and a point to prove.”
Cardiff Blues face Munster on Friday, September 21. Tickets are available now by calling 029 20 302030 or clicking here.