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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 19 November, 2019
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Lam confident in Connacht's attack as Toulouse thunder into Galway

The French heavyweights are in town for this evening’s Champions Cup clash.

CONNACHT COACH PAT Lam believes that when his players are on song they can be unstoppable.

Connacht clash with European heavyweights Toulouse at the Sportsground this evening in their Champions Cup opener [KO 5.30pm, Sky Sports 4].

Ultan Dillane and JP Cooney Ultan Dillane and JP Cooney warm up. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Lam has rested Ireland international lock Ultan Dillane as they look for their third win in a row. The reigning Guinness Pro12 champions began their season with three defeats on the bounce but have hit form since then.

They notched two bonus point victories against Edinburgh and Ulster – Lam’s first victory over their inter-provincial rivals.

But Lam and Connacht have been victorious over Toulouse before and he has made just one change to his side with Quinn Roux making his reappearance.

“Before the Pro12 final last season, people were saying Leinster had the best defence, you’d only scored this amount of tries against them,” said Lam.

“I said: ‘the first time it was raining, windy the next time,’ I didn’t think people had asked enough questions, on the basis of what we’ve seen.

“Attack is all about asking questions of a defence, and if they don’t answer those questions you can score tries.

“In our first three games, we weren’t asking the questions the right way, we weren’t putting the pressure collectively as a group.”

Lock Roux returns from injury to start after he picked up a concussion at Ireland camp in Carton House last week.

Ronan Loughney Prop Ronan Loughney. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

He will add some badly needed bulk to the Connacht pack while Dillane’s impact off the bench will be crucial too. The backline remains the same and that means scrum-half Caolin Blade keeps his place, withIreland international Kieran Marmion out of the starting 15 once again.

Cian Kelleher and Niyi Adeolokun will look to do the damage down the wings again – they have scored six tries between them in the Pro12 this season.

Connacht had their famous victory over Toulouse in Lam’s first season in charge three years ago. They beat the French 16-14 that season but were hammered 37-9 in the return fixture in Galway.

The westerners are much more competitive now and they are aiming for the knock-out stages but Lam says they will take it on a game by game basis once more.

“People talk about 20 points, but we’re new in the competition and we want to get as many points as possible. We look at this week, similar to Pro12 games. There’s five points on offer, let’s do what we can to get those and then we move to the next one.

“Same old, same old. We go through the build-up we know, what relieves the pressure of a big game is the work we do.

“We arrive confident at kick off time if we’ve done the work.”

Connacht:

15. Tiernan O’Halloran
14. Niyi Adeolokun
13. Bundee Aki
12. Craig Ronaldson
11. Cian Kelleher
10. Jack Carty
9. Caolin Blade

1. Finlay Bealham
2. Dave Heffernan
3. Conor Carey
4. Quinn Roux
5. Andrew Browne
6. Eoin McKeon
7. Jake Heenan
8. John Muldoon (captain)

Replacements:

16. Shane Delahunt
17. Ronan Loughney
18. JP Cooney
19. Ultan Dillane
20. Sean O’Brien
21. Kieran Marmion
22. Shane O’Leary
23. Stacey Ili

Toulouse:

15. Maxime Medard
14. Yoann Huget
13. Florian Fritz
12. Yann David
11. Paul Perez
10. Jean Marc Doussain
9. Sebastien Bézy

1. Cyril Baille
2. Christopher Tolofua
3. Census Johnston
4. Richie Gray
5. Joe Tekori
6. François Cros
7. Piula Faasalele
8. Carl Axtens

Replacements:

16. Julien Marchand
17. Vasil Kakovin
18. Dorian Aldegheri
19. Edwin Maka
20. Gregory Lamboley
21. Talalelei Gray
22. Toby Flood

 

Referee: Luke Pearce [RFU].

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Daragh Small

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