Monday 26 September 2016

Glorious season just gets better

John Fallon

Published 22/04/2016 | 02:30

Connacht players (l-r) Robbie Henshaw, Ultan Dillane and Bundee Aki after beating Munster. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Connacht players (l-r) Robbie Henshaw, Ultan Dillane and Bundee Aki after beating Munster. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The superb 35-14 win over Munster last weekend was the first time Connacht have completed the double over an Irish province in the same season.

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It is yet another milestone in the province's best ever season and the win is their second biggest victory over an Irish province since the league started.

The biggest win over an Irish province was the 34-6 victory over then reigning Heineken Cup champions Leinster at the Sportsground in September 2012. Connacht ran in five tries in that clash through Ronan Loughney, George Naoupu, Fetu'u Vainokolo, Tiernan O'Halloran and Dave McSharry.

Ironically, three current Connacht players, Fionn Carr, John Cooney and Quinn Roux, started that day for Leinster.

Last weekend's victory also equalled the most points scored against an Irish province in the league, having defeated Leinster 35-24 back in the 2003-'04 season.

The 24-16 win last season was Connacht's best result against Munster until the win at the weekend, while the biggest triumph over Ulster came in the 2005-'06 campaign when they had ten points to spare over Ulster on a 22-12 scoreline. Connacht now turn their attentions to Treviso next Friday and coach Pat Lam knows it will not be easy.

Connacht have won two of their five games there, with the margins of victory two points on the first occasion and three the last time they won there in October 2014.

The primary aim of qualifying for the Champions Cup has been achieved, with one more point required to secure a Pro12 semi-final spot for the first time.

"We now have to get Connacht into the semi-finals. Treviso, it's a different type of game where we're expected to win and that brings a different type of mental challenge," said Lam.

"That's a really good lesson that we've been through before and how we go about playing Treviso, who will have their last home game and are still fighting for Champions Cup, so we've got to prepare well for that."

Lam knows that a win in Italy will leave them facing champions Glasgow Warriors in the final round of games with a home semi-final up for grabs in this unforgettable season.

Irish Independent

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