Wing Richard Smith admits Cardiff Blues are entering a crucial stage of the season - with European dreams realised or shattered in the coming weeks.
Cardiff Blues face Femi-CZ Rugby Rovigo at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Friday night (kick-off 7.30pm) as they look to keep the pressure on London Irish at the top of Pool 1.
Both Blues and the Exiles are locked on 14 points after four games of the European Rugby Challenge Cup - but it is the Reading based club on top spot.
Mark Hammett’s men now face Italians Rovigo before an away trip to Grenoble as they to claim top spot or finish as one of the top eight seeds to make the quarter-finals.
And for wing Smith – who this week signed a new two-year deal at Blues – the importance of making the knockout stages is not lost.
“The next few weeks are vital,” he said. “We are still in the hunt to get through to the knockout stages in Europe so we need a good result against Rovigo.
“There are a tough side and they pushed Grenoble all the way out in Italy. After that we have a big game in France, but our focus is on Rovigo and doing a job.
“They are not going to lie down just because we’re a professional team and Welsh region. They won’t let us have it easy and they will be physical. They are a proud Italian outfit who kept going all the way to the end when we played them last.
“We need to be on top of our game and there will be no complacency,” he added. “We need the maximum points but we won’t go into the game just throwing it around. We will do the hard yards first, get go-forward and then be clinical when we get the chances.”
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