We can handle the heat - Lam
Published 29/04/2016 | 02:30
Any notions that this evening's clash in Treviso will be a straightforward victory for Connacht should be quickly dispelled by a look at the history books.
Connacht have gone to the Italian city five times in the Pro12 and the outcomes could not be more even - two wins, two losses and a draw.
And the fact that the two victories were achieved with margins of three points and two points will ensure that Pat Lam and his men will take nothing for granted today.
Connacht lost 24-17 in their first league visit to Treviso in the 2010-11 season but scored an 11-9 win there the following season.
A 23-23 draw was the outcome three seasons ago, while Treviso won 23-3 in their next meeting, with Connacht triumphing 9-6 last time out at Stadio Monigo.
Connacht need just a point to secure a first Pro12 semi-final and Lam acknowledged that the expectation was on them to win against the side at the bottom of the table.
"We had many examples this year of those sort of games, that we have to win. I think the most important thing is the preparation and focusing on our standards," he said.
"We are confident, if we prepare well. . . and we know it is a challenge because this is their last home game, and they have got to go to Dublin to play Leinster.
"If you sit in their camp and say 'we want one more win to try and get into the Champions Cup (by finishing ahead of Italian rivals Zebre), which one is our best chance?'. . . here is no doubt there are going to be going all guns blazing.
"But I suppose in the last seven weeks we have had all guns blazing at us every week, and that is highlighted to our players, that if we prepare well and we channel everything into our game and what we can bring, then it is going to give us our best chance.
"Whether you are expected to win or not, our own expectation is we do our jobs, perform well and that will get us through."
Either way Connacht's fate will ultimately be decided next week when another capacity crowd at the Sportsground will see champions Glasgow Warriors come to town with a home semi-final likely to be the prize for the winners.