Friday 24 February 2017

Lam demands more from free-scoring Connacht

Connacht 36-31 Cardiff Blues Newsdesk Newsdesk

Connacht's Bundee Aki tries to evade Gareth Davies
Connacht's Bundee Aki tries to evade Gareth Davies
Cardiff's Josh Turnbull (left) and Craig Mitchell tackle John Muldoon
Cardiff's Nepia Fox-Matamua is tackled by Ellis Jenkins
Connacht's Kieran Marmion scores his side's first try

Pat Lam says Connacht have given themselves a lot of build on for the campaign after scoring a rare win over Cardiff to take their hauls from their opening three games to 11 points.

But the Westerners' propensity for making life difficult for themselves in this fixture was again apparent at the Sportsground.

It was only Connacht's second win in a dozen matches against the Blues and Lam was thrilled that his side produced five tries to keep up their impressive start to the campaign.

They have now scored a dozen tries in three games but have also conceded nine, and that is a concern for Lam.

"We're not happy with conceding so much, especially at home, but we created a lot and took enough of them to secure the win," he said.

"Our primary target is to win our home games and we have won both of them so far.

"We felt we gifted them 17 points in the opening half but I was pleased with the response and we did what we trained in the second half and scored a couple of good tries, one of them straight off the training ground, and that was pleasing.

A loose pass by Connacht hooker Tom McCartney gifted Cardiff winger Aled Summerhill an opening try but Kieran Marmion - linked with a move back to Wales, where he grew up, with Cardiff believed to be keen to sign him when his contract is up - led the fightback.

He sniped over for a try and then new signing Nepia Fox-Matamua and Danie Poolman maintained their try-a-game scoring run this season to open up a 19-7 lead.

However, a try from Josh Turnbull helped Cardiff cut the gap to two points by half-time.

Dan Fish edged the Blues in front after the restart but tries from Tiernan O'Halloran and Aly Muldowney wrapped up the home win.

But Sam Hobbs took the gloss off the day for Connacht when he grabbed a couple of bonus points with Cardiff's fourth try in stoppage-time.

"There is plenty of room for improvement but we are pleased with the start we have made," added Lam.

"It was hard to take not getting the Glasgow win but at least we got two points out of there.

"We have 11 points in the bag and the good thing from that is that we know we are not at our best.

"We are now heading into 16 matches in a row after the break next weekend.

"That is unheard of in any competition and it will test our resources but it will give an opportunity to young players."

Connacht - T O'Halloran; D Poolman (F Carr 64), R Parata (C Ronaldson 78), B Aki, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion (J Cooney 56); D Buckley (C O'Donnell 80), T McCartney (D Heffernan 72), F Bealham (JP Cooney 80); Q Roux (A Muldowney 52), A Browne (G Naoupu 80); J Muldoon, N Fox-Matamua, E McKeon.

Cardiff Blues - D Fish (G Davies 60), A Summerhill (G Smith 20), T Isaacs, G Evans, R Smith, R Patchell, T Knoyle (L Jones 72); S Hobbs, K Dacey (M Rees 72), C Mitchell, J Hoeata (J Down 64), L Reed, J Navidi, E Jenkins (M Vosawai 75), J Turnbull.

Ref - N Hennessy (WRU).

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