Tuesday 27 September 2016

Pat Lam: We need to kick on down the home straight

Pat Lam

Published 04/03/2016 | 02:30

Head coach Pat Lam poses for a selfie with two young Connacht fans ahead of last week’s victory over Ospreys at the Sportsground Photo: Sportsfile
Head coach Pat Lam poses for a selfie with two young Connacht fans ahead of last week’s victory over Ospreys at the Sportsground Photo: Sportsfile

I was very proud of the boys against a really good Ospreys side on Saturday. We played a lot of good rugby and scored some quality tries. We did concede some scores and it certainly wasn't good for my heart watching on.

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Looking back on it earlier in the week, we confirmed that it was down to our own mistakes that let them in and it's somewhat pleasing to know that it can be easily fixed once it's identified during the week and worked on.

We were disappointed that we didn't get the bonus point for what would have been the fourth week in a row but at the same time, our defence at the end kept Ospreys from getting anything from the game and that probably made up for it.

I've said it so many times already but the support and noise from the crowd at the weekend was once again outstanding.

And it's not just the crowd at the games but the messages we get during the week are truly appreciated. We know what we do is all about everyone in the whole province and it's a great feeling if we can put a smile on people's faces and make them feel proud about where they come from and what we are doing while representing them.

That's what makes this place so special - that connection with the community. As someone who moved here from abroad with my family, it's what struck me straight away and it's what drives us all to keep working so hard.

Credit

With six rounds to go in the Pro12, we have 11 wins and 54 points, which breaks our record total from last season on both fronts. It's a huge credit to all the players and staff and we are very pleased with the work that has gone in from everyone to get us this far.

While it's great, for our supporters especially, to be at the top of the table right now, we know it will mean nothing if we don't achieve our goal by the end of the season. So for us, all we can do - and it's what we've done all season - is focus on the points on offer in each game and bring everything we can in terms of preparation and performance.

After another round of games at the weekend, the table is still really tight and it's going to be a very tough run in for everyone. Every game, no matter where you are in the table, carries significance. It's a good time in the season as the weather starts to get better and I always look forward to it.

To be in a position that we've never been in at this time is exciting but we know we need to kick on down the home straight.

For us, the main goal has always been Champions Cup qualification and we are very close to achieving that. Another win this week will put pressure on the chasing group and would bring us a step closer to securing Champions Cup for next season.

In previous years, 50-odd points has been enough to finish in the top six. However, as you can see with the quality of the competition this season, it could really go down to the wire.

People are talking about us targeting play-offs now and readjusting our goals.

We have achieved what we have this season by staying focused on the game at hand and the points on offer each week. It may be the old cliché but that's what we'll continue to do.

That starts with Edinburgh tonight. They are a side that have recently regained the form they were showing at the start of the season and they had a good win over Scarlets at the weekend.

They have always been a tough opposition and under Alan Solomons I think they are just better organised and clear on the way they want to play their game. They still have big guys in their side and the battle at set-piece time between us is always a good challenge.

There is always a bit of talk about Murrayfield and the size of the stadium for a Pro12 game but at the end of the day we have the opportunity to play in an international stadium and on a great new surface and the boys are excited about that. The fact that it is the venue for the final this year adds another dimension to it.

If we can get the job done tonight, we can all look forward to a massive fixture and a great night out against Leinster in a packed out Sportsground on Saturday, March 26 at 5.15.

Irish Independent

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