Calvisano v Cardiff Blues preview: Welsh side look to rekindle their form with a trip to Italy
Calvisano has never before faced Cardiff or any other Welsh side in the Challenge Cup ahead of their meeting on Saturday: 14:00 kick-off
The Italian side has won only three of their 24 games in the Challenge Cup
Cardiff has won both of their games against Italian opposition in this competition
Cardiff Blues will be looking for a win to rekindle their form in a must win Challenge Cup Clash against Calvisano on Saturday.
The Blues have endured their worst start to a season since they formed as a region. They are on a six-game losing streak; which includes a loss against Italian side Zebre last month.
Historically, the Welsh side have always performed well in Europe; winning the competition in 2010. They also reached the Quarter-Finals last year where they lost to fellow Welsh outfit Newport Gwent Dragons.
Cardiff are also boosted by the return of their seasoned internationals, Sam Warburton, Gethin Jenkins and Alex Cuthbert. New signing Callum Dolan may be in line to make his debut for the Welsh region.
But they are without their top scorer in this competition – Gareth Anscombe – for the first four rounds.
Calvisano may have only won three of their 24 Challenge Cup games, but they all came on home soil, giving the hosts an added incentive heading into the game
The Italians side are also in very good form, currently sharing the top spot in the Italian Eccellenza, having won four of their five opening games.
With Cardiff currently on an abysmal run of form domestically, things can’t get any worse for the Welsh region. Although Calvisano are top of the Italian league, the gulf in class between them and the PRO12 sides is very large. Cardiff by 15
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Blues: Sam Warburton
The Welsh captain is always lively and will create a real problem for Calvisano. He is a very powerful player and stands at a towering 6ft3in. He will be expected to play a big part in the game and will be looking to lead Cardiff to a victory over their Italian counterparts.
Calvisano: Nicola Belardo
Also a flanker, it will be a key battle between Warburton and Belardo during the game. The Italian has European experience having turned out for Zebre during his short stay at the club. He also played for Calvisano in what was the Amlin Challenge cup during the 2013/14 season, making five appearances.
Calvisano: Matteo Minozzi; Ben De Jager, Alberto Chiesa, Tommy Castello (capt), Marco Susio; Filippo Buscema, Riccardo Raffaele; Sami Panico, Lorenzo Giovanchelli, Salvatore Costanzo, Agustin Cavalieri, Davide Zanetti, Matteo Archetti, Maxime Mbanda, Jim Tuivaiti
Replacements: Luhandre Luus, Gabriele Morelli, Rudy Biancotti, Michele Andreotti, Luca Beccaris, Renato Giammarioli, Giacomo De Santis, Daniele Di Giulio.
Cardiff Blues: Dan Fish; Alex Cuthbert, Rey Lee-Lo, Gavin Evans, Tom James; Rhys Patchell, Lloyd Williams; Gethin Jenkins (capt), Kristian Dacey, Dillon Lewis, Jarrad Hoeata, James Down, Ellis Jenkins, Sam Warburton, Josh Turnbull.
Replacements: Matthew Rees, Thomas Davies, Craig Mitchell, Lou Reed, Manoa Vosawai, Tavis Knoyle, Jarrod Evans, Blaine Scully.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (England).
Touch judges: Andrew Small (England), Nigel Carrick (England).
Fourth official: Francesco Russo (Italy).
Citing commissioner: Jean-Claude Legendre (France).