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Pat Lam: We're top of the table but there's a long way to go

The western province have won their opening two Champions Cup games.

Lam speaking to the media after the game in Parma.
Lam speaking to the media after the game in Parma.
Image: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

GIVEN THE HIGH standards Pat Lam has set for Connacht, he was disappointed that they conceded a try to Zebre in the 52-7 Champions Cup win in Parma on Sunday.

It would have been the first time in 20 Champions Cup games that Connacht would have kept a clean sheet, but replacement hooker Tommaso D’Apice got over in the final quarter.

Connacht ran in eight tries for a record win in the competition but Lam said they are always striving to improve.

“It was a professional performance. Not many teams come here and put 50. We’re disappointed because we had a team goal that we weren’t going to concede tries. It was a big focus for us.

“The try we conceded was sloppy because we started with a line-out down in their half and we lost that line-out. They kicked it and we kicked the ball away and we turned the ball over, we got penalised at the scrum and we let them in for a soft try. It wasn’t just the scoring of the try, it was that whole period of play.

“Besides that, it had been good up to then so we’re pretty disappointed by that. We’re happy with the outcome, 50 points but I just asked the question, ‘Could there have been more?’ Everyone replied. ‘Of course it could have.’ We weren’t clinical at times, we were trying to rush it. Sometimes just a couple of passes and we were in, just being a bit more clinical.

Stacey Ili runs in for a try Stacey Ili scored a hat-trick. Source: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

“We’re very happy with the outcome and what we’ve done but there’s a bit of work, particularly with such a big game next week in the RDS against Leinster.”

Stacey Ili scored a hat-trick on his first start and Cian Kelleher ran in a brace, with replacement prop Conor Carey also touching. All three joined Connacht in the summer.

Jack Carty and a penalty try completed the rout which leaves Connacht in a strong position to reach the knockout stages for the first time in four attempts.

“We’re top of the table now but there’s a long way to go,” added Lam.

“It shows how tough our pool is. It’s going to come down to two of us going through. That’s the battle. The main thing for us is it’s two from two, bonus point, nine points. We can now park these two games.

“We’ve got two big games in the Pro12 starting at the RDS against Leinster before we head into a break.

“We’ll pick back up the Champions Cup in December. We’re sitting in a good place with a tough job to come away in Coventry.”

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John Fallon

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