Wednesday 17 January 2018

Lam ready to end Liberty hoodoo

John Fallon

Connacht will tomorrow try to beat their bogey team and finally bring to an end a run which began with a highly controversial refereeing decision.

Connacht looked set for a win on their first ever visit to Liberty Stadium in Swansea when they led champions Ospreys by two points in a Celtic League game in October 2005.

But they were penalised for 'time-wasting' in the closing seconds by Scottish referee Rob Dickson - a decision which even bemused the home following - and Shaun Connor slotted a last-gasp winning penalty.

Connacht will tomorrow make their 11th trip to Liberty Stadium but they are still looking for their first win.

Indeed, since that controversial defeat in '05, Connacht have only won three and lost 18 of their 21 meetings with the Welsh side.

The overall record reads six wins for Connacht, 18 for Ospreys and there has never been a draw.

But it was all so different in the first few seasons when Ospreys were formed, with Connacht winning on both of their first two visits.

They won 33-22 at St Helen's in Swansea against the recently formed regional team in 2003, with current Ireland second-row Mike McCarthy, Grenoble coach Bernard Jackman and Connacht's performance analyst Conor McPhillips among the try scorers.

Winger Wayne Munn from South Africa also scored that evening as Connacht picked up the bonus point.

A year later the clash took place at The Gnoll in Neath where Matt Mostyn scored the only try of the match and Paul Warwick converted and landed a penalty to secure a 10-9 win.

Connacht looked set for a third win in a row at the new stadium the following year until Dickson's remarkable decision, and since then it has been one defeat after another.

The closest Connacht got to them was a 19-17 loss there six seasons ago but that was the only occasion since the first visit that Ospreys have scored less than 20 points.

Ospreys did the double over Connacht in each of the last two seasons but coach Pat Lam believes his men can finally win there.

"It is always a hard place to go but the only way we can change that is by doing our jobs," he said.

Irish Independent

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