Tuesday 17 September 2019

Lam: Turn up heat against Brive

Connacht's Denis Buckley, left, and Aly Muldowney attempt to keep warm on the team bench.
Connacht's Denis Buckley, left, and Aly Muldowney attempt to keep warm on the team bench.

John Fallon

It's a measure of how far last weekend's trip to Siberia was that when Connacht finally got on their delayed flight out of Krasnoyarsk on Monday, the Enisei-STM team they had defeated were also on board, starting their journey to play Newcastle Falcons on Sunday.

What impact the 12,000km round trip will have on Connacht, not least after arriving home three days late, will be a key factor in deciding tomorrow's second-round clash with Brive.

Pat Lam had planned to use two different teams for these games but an increase in the casualty list on the night when they defeated Treviso to go top of the Pro12 scuttled that plan.

"We had to make a fourth draft to the plan for this week but that's life. It is all about how you adapt to meet these new challenges. We have a shortened preparation for Brive but these things happen.

"It was one challenge after another. But one day we will look back at it and say it made us tougher. I had never experienced anything like it before but things change during a game, and you just adapt," said Lam.

Their Siberian adventure has been slotted to the back of the mind and the main priority now is to regroup and get the win which will keep them top of their pool in the Challenge Cup as they resume their Pro12 campaign next weekend away to Munster. And Connacht won't lack incentive against the side from the Limousin region.

Brive are one of 18 French sides that Connacht have played over the years. Connacht have achieved victories against 14 of them and Brive are among the four they have not yet beaten.

Connacht lost their single games against Agen and Racing 92, while Brive and Montferrand (now Clermont Auvergne) are the only French sides Connacht have played twice and lost both times.

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Lam's men will tomorrow hope to add Brive to the impressive list of French sides that they have lowered, with wins against Toulon, Nice, Begles-Bordeaux, Perigueux, Narbonne, Beziers, Mont de Marsan, Pau, Montpellier, Grenoble, Dax, Bourgoin, Bayonne and La Rochelle.

Victory would also see Connacht defeat a former Heineken Cup champion in Europe for a fourth time, following the wins over Northampton Saints, Toulon and Toulouse.

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