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Weight of history still threatens Connacht's best ever season

It’s a tough run-in for the league leaders and their inter-pro record is poor.

THIS IS CONNACHT’S most successful season ever regardless of what happens from here, but if they are to secure a first ever Pro12 semi-final spot they are going to have to fly in the face of history in the three upcoming Irish derbies.

Connacht have played 77 league matches against Munster, Leinster and Ulster — and have only emerged victorious in 12 of them.

They will take on Leinster at the Sportsground on Saturday, travel to Ulster the following Friday and then two weeks later — after playing Grenoble in the Challenge Cup quarter-final — they will host Munster.

Ian Porter celebrates with Dave McSharry Ian Porter celebrates with Dave McSharry after a win over Leinster in 2014. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The westerners will be encouraged ahead of Saturday’s Sportsground sell-out by the fact that six of their dozen derby wins have been achieved against Leinster, five of them at home.

However, 20 of the 26 east v west clashes have gone Leinster’s way.

Robbie Henshaw Henshaw couldn't stop Connacht taking a late-season 58 - 12 drubbing away to Ulster in 2014, Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

That trend is followed in games against Ulster where Connacht have won just three of their 25 games. There was a 15-15 draw in 2010-11, but Ulster have won the other 21 contests and Connacht have never managed a win in Belfast in the professional era.

Yet this has been a season where Pat Lam’s men have been breaking records all over the place. The 18-12 win in Thomond Park in November was their first victory at the Limerick ground in the professional era. But it was only their third win over Munster in the league, with 22 losses and one draw.

Domestic Blues: Connacht’s record against the other provinces in the league:

LEINSTER P26 W6 D0 L20

ULSTER P25 W3 D1 L21

MUNSTER P26 W3 D1 L22

However, Connacht supporters will be encouraged by the team’s prolific try-scoring rate. This is the season when the men of the west have scored more tries than ever before, achieved more wins and accumulated more points, even with five matches still left.

All that remains now is to reverse some of those inter-provincial trends and an elusive semi-final spot will surely be theirs.

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About the author:

John Fallon

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