Pat Lam’s Connacht still topping polls out west

Connacht 30 Ospreys 22: Connacht’s season continues to produce more milestones in the quest to maintain their momentum at the top of the Guinness Pro12 table. In a high-octane fixture at the Galway Sportsground on Saturday, Pat Lam’s squad saw off the Ospreys with three tries in a polished show
Pat Lam’s Connacht still topping polls out west

With 19 points from a possible 20 in the last four matches, Connacht continue to break records - 54 championship points this season already surpasses last season’s 50, and with 11 wins, Connacht have exceeded the number of wins by one with six fixtures remaining.

“Extremely proud,” says coach Pat Lam. “It was a step up in intensity against a quality Ospreys team. We acknowledge what we have achieved. In some years 54 points would have good enough for sixth place, but now we need to get 58 or 59. To beat Ospreys down there and at home is a real achievement, but come Monday we start the prep for Edinburgh and the double over them.”

Connacht held a slender 17-15 lead at the break after the perfect start with two early converted tries from man of the match Bundee Aki and Aj MacGinty. Ospreys’ influential outhalf Sam Davies struck a fourth-minute penalty in between, before Ben John grabbed their opening try and the immense No 8 Dan Baker powered over from another quickly-taken penalty, with Davies adding the extras.

Ronaldson edged the hosts in front with a 27th minute penalty and then converted top try scorer Matt Healy’s ninth on 51 minutes. However dangerous Welsh scrumhalf Rhys Webb finished a superb attack from halfway, with Davies’ conversion reducing the deficit to just two points. Connacht’s riposte was a Ronaldson three-pointer before they knuckled down to a period of defence, epitomised by a try-saving tackle from replacement Kieran Marmion, who stopped Davies in the corner. After stretching the lead to 30-22 in the 66th minute, Connacht then battened down the hatches.

CONNACHT:

T O’Halloran, N Adeolokun, B Aki, C Ronaldson, M Healy, A MacGinty, C Blade, D Buckley, T McCartney (cpt), R Ah You, B Marshall, A Muldowney, S O’Brien J Heenan, G Naoupu.

Replacements:

K Marmion for Blade (32), D Qualter for Marshall (HT), F Bealham for Ah You (57), J Connolly for Naoupu and D Poolman for Adeolokun (62m), R Loughney for Buckley (71), D Heffernan for McCartney (73), P Robb for Ronaldson (75m).

OSPREYS:

D Evans, J Hassler, J Engelbrecht, J Matavesi, B John, S Davies, R Webb, P James, S Parry, D Arhip, J King, R Thornton, J Bearman, O Cracknell, D Baker.

Replacements:

O Watkin for Englebrecht (7m), R Bernardo for Bearman and A Jarvis for Arhip (52m), S Otten for Parry (61m), G Thomas for James (64), E Walker for John (67), B Leonard for Webb (72).

Referee:

G Clancy (IRFU).

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