Friday 28 October 2016

Pat Lam eyes back-to-back PRO12 titles and Champions Cup progress for Connacht

Published 29/05/2016 | 12:06

Connacht players celebrate with the PRO12 trophy
Connacht players celebrate with the PRO12 trophy

Connacht coach Pat Lam has challenged his side to make their Guinness PRO12 triumph the start of a golden era in Galway.

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The Devil's Own clinched their first major trophy as they put on a daring display to beat Leinster 20-10 at Murrayfield.

The victory put the seal on a remarkable season during which Connacht tossed aside their traditional tag of being Ireland's underdogs as they were transformed by Lam's ultra-attacking philosophy.

But now the Samoan wants to make Saturday's win the first step on the road to sustained success.

"True success doesn't rely on trophies because only one team takes the trophy home," he said. "We've won it this time and it's fantastic for everyone but we've got a plan and we have to keep going.

"We're back on June 30 for pre-season and I've already set the goals for next year. We've got to defend this title and go back-to-back. It's realistic for us to win this PRO12 again.

"The second aim is to get into the knock-out stages of the Champions Cup. I'll put that out there because come June 30 we start the work again.

"We know what we're building. That's the key, to set goals and work every day to achieve that."

Leinster were chasing their third title in four years but ended up being stunned when Connacht's Tiernan O'Halloran and Niyi Adeolokun struck before half-time, with Matt Healy crossing over after the break.

Sean Cronin pulled a try back deep into the second period for the Blues but it was far too little, far too late.

That left it to delighted Connacht skipper John Muldoon to take his place in the history books as he hoisted the trophy aloft in front of almost 35,000 fans in Edinburgh.

And even deflated Leinster captain Jamie Heaslip could not deny the victors deserved their fairytale ending.

He said: "I don't think we were the big bad wolf. I thought they were favourites coming in because they were going well all season. They were the pace-setters, the highest try-scoring team.

"They are a tough side to defend against. The punish you in all sorts of different ways and a very good defensive side as well.

"The better side won and there's not a whole lot more that I can say. All credit to Connacht, though, they were very good all season."

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