Tuesday 22 May 2018

Lam has learned Italian lessons

Pat Lam “There is no doubt the Italians are difficult to beat at home.
Pat Lam “There is no doubt the Italians are difficult to beat at home." Photo: Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

Despite Connacht's high-flying season, Pat Lam is not getting carried away and is urging caution ahead of tonight's clash against Treviso.

Lam has learned the dangers that Treviso can pose from the stinging 20-point defeat to the Italians in his first season in charge at the Sportsground and his team followed it up with an ultra-cautious 9-6 win at tonight's venue last season.

And while the shackles will be loosened as the Westerners go in search of the bonus points that will boost their home semi-final hopes, Lam still is wary of disrespecting the league's bottom side, who have only won twice this season.

"There is no doubt the Italians are difficult to beat at home. They are a different side at home. They certainly get up for those games," said Lam.

"This is my third time going to Treviso. The first time I looked at it pretty naively, I looked at and I thought we could run from here, we could open them up, and so forth. And the game got away on us. We made our errors and they got on a roll and we lost by 20 points.

"And then I said if we ever go back to Italy, never to make that mistake again, and make sure that we get our basics right. Last year we were very conservative just to get the job done. This year, it's different, we know that to go over there and win, ideally we want five points.

"Now we are a different team from year three to year one. I wouldn't say that we are going over there being conservative but we are going over there to make sure that we take all of the learnings that we have over the last three years, the maturity of the team, the confidence of the team now, to prepare well and have a go."

It was a night to remember last time out for Connacht who ran in four tries past a shellshocked Munster at the Sportsground. And with next week's critical home tie with Glasgow Warriors in mind, Lam has made 10 changes to the side that completed the double over Munster.

In comes Tiernan O'Halloran, Rory Parata, Jack Carty, John Cooney and Jake Heenan for their first starts since their respective injuries, while Fionn Carr, Ronan Loughney, Rodney Ah You, Quinn Roux and Andrew Browne also move into the starting team.

"There is no doubt, Glasgow have Zebre at home, so there is a win there and a bonus point. So our job is can we put five points out there against Treviso, and what we do, then that puts the pressure, 24 hours later on Leinster who go to Ulster.

"Every team want to finish one (or) two. The main thing for us is to put the pressure on. The good thing about it, a home semi is in our control."

Connacht - T O'Halloran; N Adeolokun, RParata, P Robb, F Carr; J Carty, J Cooney; RLoughney, T McCartney (c), R Ah You; QRoux, A Browne; S O'Brien, J Heenan, EMcKeon Reps : D Heffernan, JP Cooney, FBealham, A Muldowney, J Muldoon, C Blade, AJ MacGinty, R Henshaw.
Benetton Rugby - J Hayward, A Esposito, LMorisi, A Sgarbi (c), L Nitoglia; S Christie, EGori; M Zanusso, O Gega, S Ferrari; F Paulo, T Palmer; F Minto, A Zanni, A Steyn. Reps : D Giazzon, C Traorè, S Manu, M Fuser, M Lazzaroni, A Lucchese, LMcLean, T Iannone.

Benetton Treviso v Connacht

Live TG4 7.30

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