Friday 20 April 2018

Connacht fired up for Cardiff

Connacht coach Pat Lam keeps a watchful eye on his players during training
Connacht coach Pat Lam keeps a watchful eye on his players during training

John Fallon

Given that Connacht defeated Cardiff in the first two meetings between the sides when the league began almost a decade and a half ago, it is hard to believe that they have only beaten them three times in 24 games since then.

But this is a fixture that Connacht have not enjoyed much good fortune in, a point emphasised last season when Cardiff snatched a controversial late winner in the Arms Park and then came back from the dead to grab a 24-24 draw in the Sportsground.

That was one of two draws between the sides, with the sides finishing 16-16 at the Sportsground in 2006-07.

The sides met on the opening weekend of the league back in 2001 when Connacht memorably won 6-3 in the Arms Park. Connacht also came out on top in the first meeting between them in the Sportsground the following season when they triumphed 23-22.

But since then Cardiff have held the edge in this fixture, restricting Connacht to just three wins in between.

Two of those were at the Sportsground, winning 13-9 in the 2005-06 season and then coming out on top by 18-16 three seasons later.

Three seasons ago Connacht won 26-22 away to Cardiff to secure their only win in eleven games against the Blues, while four points remains their biggest winning margin over them.

In contrast, Cardiff secured their biggest ever league when they defeated an understrength Connacht side 58-0 seven years ago. That remains Connacht's biggest loss.

The 61 points accumulated by Connacht in the opening day 29-23 win over Dragons and the 33-32 loss away to Glasgow is not a record for them after two games.

At the start of the 2010-11 season they scored 73 points in their opening two games when they defeated Dragons 40-17 and then lost 35-33 away to Scarlets.

But the seven tries scored so far equals their best touchdown rate for the opening two games. They scored four in that opening day win over Dragons five years ago, with Fionn Carr hitting a hat-trick in the loss away to Scarlets a week later.

The first time Connacht scored seven tries in their opening two games was in the 2004-05 season when they got four in a 31-15 win over Glasgow and then hit for three in a 27-27 draw away to Munster in Musgrave Park.

Irish Independent

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