Preview: Cardiff Blues v Treviso

Date published: February 17 2017

Cardiff Blues head coach Danny Wilson has made five changes to his starting line-up for Saturday's clash with Treviso at Cardiff Arms Park.

The Blues have been boosted by the return of Alex Cuthbert, Steve Shingler and George Earle from international duty, injury and suspension.

Taufa'ao Filise comes into the front row in the place of Anton Peikrishvili and Sion Bennett makes his first start for the region on the open-side flank due to injuries.

Following last week's agonising home defeat to Connacht, head coach Danny Wilson has called for a response as the Blues bid to keep their season alive.

Wilson said: "Connacht was a very big and important game for us and we didn't do ourselves justice. We let our supporters down and didn't give a performance that justified trying to get in the top six.

"I'm looking for a response from everybody involved, a performance at home that gets us a win and one that gives us and our supporters something to be more proud of than last weekend.

"Hopefully we can do that moving into a tough couple of games – Edinburgh away and Munster at home.

"It's plain and simple, we need to win our next three games to have any chance of finishing in the top six which is, and will remain, our long-term goal.”

Meanwhile, Treviso boss Kieran Crowley has made six changes to his run-on side after last weekend's loss to Leinster.

In the back-line, Tommaso Allan returns from international duty to start at inside centre where he replaces Alberto Sgarbi while Luca Sperandio comes in for David Odiete at full-back.

In other back-line changes, Michael Tagicakibau and Angelo Esposito take over from Andrea Pratichetti Luca Sperandio on the wings.

Up front, Dean Budd takes over the captaincy after moving to the second row from the openside flank where Francesco Minto comes in as his replacement.

Form: Cardiff Blues have won just once in the last six rounds of the PRO12: 27-16 at home to Dragons on Boxing Day. The Blues have won their last three matches against Italian opponents since tripping up against Treviso at Stadio Monigo last February. Treviso have won just one of their last ten PRO12 fixtures: 23-12 at home to Zebre on 23 December. Treviso’s only away win in the last two years came on a trip to Bayonne in the European Challenge Cup in December. The last eight encounters between the two sides have been fairly evenly split with Blues gaining four wins, Treviso three and one match drawn. Treviso have visited Cardiff on six previous occasions and lost them all.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Willis Halaholo, 12 Steve Shingler, 11 Blaine Scully, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Lloyd Williams (c), 8 Nick Williams, 7 Sion Bennett, 6 Macauley Cook, 5 Jarrad Hoeata, 4 George Earle, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Rhys Gill 
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 James Down, 20 Kirby Myhill, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Garyn Smith, 23 Tom James

Treviso: 15 Luca Sperandio, 14 Michael Tagicakibau, 13 Tommaso Iannone, 12 Tommaso Allan, 11 Angelo Esposito, 10 Ian McKinley, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Francesco Minto, 6 Marco Lazzaroni, 5 Dean Budd (c), 4 Teofilo Paulo, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Federico Zani 
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Matteo Zanusso, 18 Jody Rossetto, 19 Jean Francois Montauriol, 20 Guglilemo Zanini, 21 Giorgio Bronzini, 22 Andrea Pratichetti, 23 David Odiete

Date: Saturday, February 18
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Gareth Newman (Wales)
TMO: Paul Thomas (Wales)