Around six weeks after an embarrassing loss in Italy we welcome Treviso to the Arms Park on Friday looking to exact some revenge for that game. On the back of a very impressive victory last week against Munster at home we have to be looking to keep the momentum going into the Welsh derbies throughout April, and no better time to do that than getting our first league win over Italian opposition this season.
Cardiff 37-28 Munster: https://cardiffbluesblog.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/cardiff-37-28-munster/
Despite that poor record this season, we have not lost to Treviso at home since they entered the Pro12 in 2010. In those five games we are 149-83 up, but stats are all well and good if you can’t back them up. As we found out from going to Italy last month the game plan needs to be very simple. Keep ball in hand, be accurate in attack and take points when you can. The other key part of the plan has to be discipline in defence. We gave away far too many penalties last time, especially at scrum time, but if our set piece functions like it did last week it will always be a solid base to work off.
Treviso 13-7 Cardiff: https://cardiffbluesblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/treviso-13-7-cardiff/
That disgrace against Benetton was actually their first win in any competition this season, making it extra embarrassing and even better material to try and get revenge over. Since then they went on to beat Newport as well, following that up with narrow losses at home to Munster and in Llanelli, meaning they will not be a walk over. However, I go back to last week’s performance again, a showing capable of beating any side.
What would a win this weekend mean? Well it kind of depends on what happens elsewhere, which is likely to be the byline for the rest of the season. Four points on Friday would put us on 43 points, and if Newport do us a favour against Edinburgh, and Ospreys struggle against arch-rivals Llanelli then we could well be 7th in the league, just four points behind Glasgow if they struggle at home to Ulster, albeit with their game in hand. The top six is not completely out of reach, all we can do is keep winning.
Danny Wilson has certainly selected a very strong team to give us a chance of pushing uo the table that’s for sure. Wales internationals Gethin Jenkins, Sam Warburton, Gareth Anscombe and Tom James all return to the starting line-up, as does U20 Six Nations winner Dillon Lewis. Kristian Dacey packs down between Dillon and Gethin, with Josh Turnbull staying at lock but joined this week by the returning James Down. Sam makes up a back row comprised entirely of natural opensides alongside Ellis Jenkins and Josh Navidi.
In the backs Anscombe’s re-introduction means Rhys Patchell moves to full-back and Dan Fish back to the wing for the injured Blaine Scully. Tom James starts on the opposite side so Aled Summerhill drops to the bench, while only Garyn Smith, Rey Lee-Lo and Lloyd Williams are starting in the same positions. On the bench we see Scott Andrews take a seat as Tau Filise is injured and Salesi Ma’afu rested, Jarrad Hoeata returns and Lewis Jones continues to be selected over Tavis Knoyle and Tomos Williams.
Cardiff team v Treviso: 15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Dan Fish, 13 Garyn Smith, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Tom James, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Lloyd Williams; 1 Gethin Jenkins (c), 2 Kristian Dacey, 3 Dillon Lewis, 4 Josh Turnbull, 5 James Down, 6 Ellis Jenkins, 7 Sam Warburton, 8 Josh Navidi
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Jarrad Hoeata, 20 Manoa Vosawai, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Aled Summerhill
So probably one of, if not the, strongest team we’ve put out this season against what on paper should be the weakest opposition. Does it ever work out that easy with Cardiff though? No. What we need is to start well and get our noses in front because if we play in the first half like we did out in Treviso then we might struggle to fight our way back. Speed and accuracy from the get go to allow us to have our normal 10-20 minutes of mediocrity with a comfortable cushion. Come on Cardiff!!
Cardiff record v Treviso: W 7 D 1 L 3
Cardiff Form: WWLWWLLWLW
Treviso Form: LLLLLLWWLL
Cardiff top try scorer: Tom James (9)
Treviso top try scorer: Jayden Hayward (4)
Cardiff top points scorer: Rhys Patchell (225)
Treviso top points scorer: Jayden Hayward (135)
Andy Brace (IRFU) – The former Cardiff Blues development officer returns to the Arms Park for the third time this season after officiating our 20-16 win over Connacht in December and the battering over Zebre back in September. He was also in charge as we narrowly lost to Harlequins in January. 17 yellow cards in 14 games isn’t great, but none of them for Cardiff so fingers crossed he keeps his former employers in the good books.