'The boys always step up': Lam confident Connacht can deal with anything thrown at them

The Samoan will have to beat Glasgow again in a fortnight to make history by marching Connacht to their first final.

Lam embraces lock Aly Mldowney at full-time yesterday.
Lam embraces lock Aly Mldowney at full-time yesterday.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CONNACHT COACH PAT Lam believes that home advantage is a massive plus for them as they bid to reach the first ever final in the province’s history.

And he believes his team’s ability to deal with all sorts of weather has equipped them to front up to the various challenges they have faced during an epic season.

His men will have to beat the reigning Pro12 champions twice in a fortnight if they are to make it to their first final, but nailing home advantage has given them a great chance.

“It’s massive for us. It’s massive for our fans. I think the thing I’m most proud about, we were underdogs, they’re the form team, 22 internationals.”

The Sportsground weather is notorious but Lam’s side prefer a dry ball and firm surface and he could hardly believe it when days of dry weather saw the clouds open on match day — with a heatwave due in the coming days!

“When the rain came in, it’s quite amazing. The next few days are a heatwave and one day of rain and it was this one.

But the boys were excited because now we can show people what we can do. A lot’s been talked about the game and our skill level, it probably wasn’t the best but that’s not what it was about.

“I said to the boys, it was about showing people our desire, our character, our culture. That was the one ingredient missing last week. We played some good rugby against Treviso but they wanted it more.

“We put a big focus on that, the boys came back and delivered it in spades. I’m so proud of them. Great effort.”

He will now turn his attention to repeating the victory over the champions at the Sportsground on Saturday week, but he thinks his men can adapt to what’s put in front of them.

“I said this right from when I first came in, I don’t want to be known as a team that runs everything or kicks everything or keeps it up the jumper.

Tiernan O’Halloran scores a try Tiernan O'Halloran comes down with the match-winning try. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“It’s about conditions and what the defence gives us. And then that’s up to the players to make the decisions. It comes down to execution. We knew the forecast was raining so we’re not silly against a very good defensive team to try and play too much in that area but we needed to put them under pressure. The kick is only as good as the chase and the chase is only as good as your hunger and working together.

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“When you’ve got guys like Stuart Hogg and Jones and Seymour. It was phenomenal to see our forwards staying connected, making tackles and then working back on defence. A lot has been said about our defence but when it’s counted in the big games, Munster, Leinster, here today and against Ulster when we were down to 13 men, the boys always step up.”

Originally published 09.50

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John Fallon

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