Sunday 25 February 2018

There's massive motivation - Lam

Pat Lam (PA)
Pat Lam (PA)

John Fallon

Pat Lam hit the nail on the head earlier this week when he said that by 5.0 tomorrow the season will be over for eight of the teams in the Pro12.

They will have a wind-down for a few days, some of those lads will never play with each other, some will head on holidays, others on summer tours, but it will be September again before those eight teams run out again for a competitive match.

Four will still be standing, and regardless of what happens tomorrow in the top of the table clash with champions Glasgow Warriors, Connacht will, for the first time, be one of the semi-finalists.

The prize for the victors will be a home semi-final and while that in itself won't guarantee a place in the final, the evidence is fairly compelling, with all 12 semi-finals so far won by the home team.

"It's a bonus to get a home semi, doesn't mean you can't win it from others, but come 5.00 on Saturday, eight teams are finished, four go on. We know even before then we're one of the four. So that's what I'm happy about," said Lam.

A glance at current form or the historical results quickly put into perspective the task which awaits Connacht. Glasgow come into the game on the back of nine successive wins in the Pro12, a run which started with a 27-24 victory over Munster in Kilmarnock in February.

There have been 26 league games between the sides, with Glasgow winning 17, Connacht six and three draws. All three draws came at the Sportsground, where Connacht have beaten Glasgow five times and lost four to them.

Connacht's biggest win over Glasgow came in 2010-11 when they won 37-8, but that's the only win in the last 14 league matches between the sides.

Glasgow are one of only two sides in the Pro12 that Connacht have not beaten since Lam arrived three years ago - Ulster are the other - and the coach knows that a home semi-final would be huge for the region.

"Leinster was sold out one day before, Munster one week before, this game sold out two weeks ago. You can see what's going to happen if we get a home semi. It's fantastic for the whole area, so there's massive motivation to get the home semi. It's in our control."

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