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Wilson insists Cardiff Blues will not take Italian sides for granted

21st February 2018

Danny Wilson insists Cardiff Blues will not take the Italian sides for granted over the next fortnight, as Wales' Capital Region prepare for back-to-back Guinness PRO14 clashes against Zebre and Benetton Rugby.

Following consecutive home victories over Cheetahs and Munster, Wilson’s side travel to Parma on Sunday to take on Zebre, who head into the clash on the back of an impressive away victory against Connacht last weekend.

Wales’ Capital Region, who secured a 37-8 victory over Zebre in November, will then go on to host Benetton Rugby at the Cardiff Arms Park on Friday, 2 March, as they aim to close the gap on third-placed Cheetahs, who currently occupy a play-off place in Conference A.

Wilson has been impressed by the improvements shown from both Italian outfits this season, and believes their expansive game-plans have the potential to cause problems for any side in the Championship.

The Cardiff Blues head coach said: "I certainly want our record to be three Italian wins this season, but by no means is that an easy achievement.

"They’re not the route-one, set-piece and kicking-only teams that they used to be. There is far more to them and therefore they are a real threat.

"I think it’s great for the PRO14 and long-term I’m sure Conor O’Shea’s influence in Italian rugby is having an effect.

"Watching Treviso recently beating Scarlets and Dragons, they’re a good side, who’ve made really good signings, added a new dimension to their game and are well coached.

"Zebre are the same, as they’ve also picked up a number of good wins.

"We all know it’s a very tough place to go to win. Gone are the days where you go to Zebre to pick up a bonus point win.

"It’s an extremely difficult place and they got a result last week against Connacht away, and beat them quite comfortably. 

"Their coaching set-up have brought a new dimension to the way they play. Looking at Zebre this year, they’re so different to play against.

"They’re prepared to play from almost anywhere and have a real endeavour for a big offload game. 

"That’s high risk and that can cost them at times, and hopefully it does on Sunday, but it can also be extremely dangerous at they can score tries from that."

Wilson was also pleased by his side's hard-fought victory over Munster at the Welsh capital on Saturday. The Blues led at half-time after scoring three tries during an eight-minute spell, but the Irish province bounced back in typical fashion to close the home side's lead.

However, Jarrod Evans showed nerves of steel, adding two late penalties to keep his side out of reach, and Wilson believes the victory has put the Blues in a promising position heading into the latter stages of the campaign.

"To beat Munster, in any occasion home or away, is a big win. We played very well in the first half, scoring three very good tries, and I think they were a little bit shell-shocked at half time. It was some of the best rugby we’ve played in a while.

"They got themselves back in the game in the second half, which Munster will always do because they’ll have their purple patch, while we also didn’t particularly manage that period very well.

"We then finished strong with young Jarrod Evans kicking two penalties, which were the result of of good pressure.

"All in all it was a great win, especially on the back of beating Cheetahs the week before. We’ve won six of the last eight games in the PRO14 and Challenge Cup which is a good place for us to be and, at the moment, we are very much in both competitions."