The Cardiff Arms Park crowd could play a pivotal role in Cardiff Blues' crucial Guinness PRO14 encounter against Benetton Rugby on Friday, according to Danny Wilson.
On the eve of the NatWest 6 Nations finale, the Blues welcome the Italian outfit to the Welsh capital, for the rescheduled Championship clash, and Wilson emphasised the importance of the fixture as his side head into the “business-end of the season."
Following Friday’s game, Wales’ Capital Region have PRO14 fixtures against Ulster, Cheetahs, Southern Kings and Ospreys as they look to consolidate their place on Europe’s top table next season, as well as having one eye on the end-of-season play-offs.
And with the Challenge Cup quarter final clash against Edinburgh also on the horizon, Wilson believes that Friday’s match could be a perfect way of continuing momentum to fight on both domestic and European fronts.
Wilson said: “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.”
With a combined 12 wins between them, the Italian sides have been this season’s surprise package in the PRO14.
Wilson is aware of the threat Benetton will pose, and believes their strength-in-depth have made them a dangerous outfit during the Six Nations period.
“I’ve been really impressed with them. They’re a very different side to what we’ve seen in the past, and they’ve picked up eight wins in the Championship, which is impressive,” said Wilson.
“They’re a squad with a lot of depth, and have won games even when the international players have been away, including beating the Scarlets, the defending champions, quite comfortably at home.
“They’ve got a number of threats around the squad, with a big forward pack as you’d traditionally expect but also some quality in the outside backs that can cause you problems.
“We don’t underestimate Benetton, even though it’s a home game and a game we put pressure on ourselves to get a result. We’ve got a good home record this season and we want to maintain that.”
Be there to make the difference in the crucial final block of Guinness PRO14 fixtures. Tickets are now available for Cardiff Blues' home fixtures against Benetton Rugby, Ulster Rugby and Ospreys.