Friday 9 December 2016

Lam: Let's crank it up from here

John Fallon

Published 05/02/2016 | 02:30

Connacht’s Robbie Henshaw is challenged by Rhodri Williams of Scarlets during the Pro12 game at The Sportsground in Galway last weekend Photo: Sportsfile
Connacht’s Robbie Henshaw is challenged by Rhodri Williams of Scarlets during the Pro12 game at The Sportsground in Galway last weekend Photo: Sportsfile

Connacht coach Pat Lam has called on his men to produce a massive finish to what is already their best season in the professional era.

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Connacht are this week taking a badly needed break, coming off an unprecedented 16 games in a row.

But Lam's men, despite a few wobbles as injuries took hold, have dealt superbly with the demands of that marathon run and are through to the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup and sitting in second place in the Pro12, level on points with the table-topping Scarlets team they defeated last weekend.

That 30-17 bonus point win saw Connacht wrap the 16-week run with ten wins and six losses to emerge as the only side in the Pro12 still in contention for silverware in both the league and Europe.

"This whole 16-week block has been tough, but a lot of lessons have been learned in adversity," said Lam.

"It's a relief that we've got through this 16-week period. We've had some tough moments.

"We could only put out 22 players against Newcastle. It's always going to be tough with the smaller squads. We are the smallest but we got through it.

"To be in the quarter-final of the Challenge Cup in April, to be second in the table but on the same points is a wonderful achievement for this whole group of men."

His men will resume their campaign in Wales next Thursday when they take on Dragons at Rodney Parade, while the weeks will skip fairly quickly before they travel to France to take on Grenoble on April 9 in the last eight of the Challenge Cup.

"We're in uncharted waters. I don't think Connacht has ever been in this situation at this time. I think we've got the most wins already. We're in a different place," added Lam.

"And the bottom line is that we like the hard grounds and to move the ball. The boys are trying to do things, they have the confidence to try things. But certainly there's no doubt we'll look forward to the back end of the season when the conditions get good.

"We understand we have to adapt our game and that's a lesson going forward in the next few years, how we get through the December/January period and the type of rugby that needs to be played. But we're learning that as we go and we'll get better."

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