Connacht, despite resting Irish internationals Kieran Marmion, Ultan Dillane and Finlay Bealham along others, could only deal with what was put in front of them and while they started slowly they took control and ran in seven tries at the Sportsground.
The win is Lam’s 50th victory since he took charge and only Michael Bradley, who was coach for 186 matches, has been at the helm as long at the Sportsground. But the key figures which will matter to Lam is that their fourth win of the campaign, and second in row, gets them back into contention with those in top half as they face into festive ties away to Ulster and at home to high-flying Munster.
First, though, they will turn their attention to the Champions Cup and will go into their clashes with Wasps on the back of opening round wins over Toulouse and Zebre. A year ago they only had 22 fit players to bring to Newcastle for a Challenge Cup tie and while Craig Ronaldson is out for two months, Lam’s selection headaches this time will be around how to pick from a bulging squad.
Out-half and kicking duties will pose one of those dilemmas, although that might be remedied if Marnitz Boshoff does not recover from a shoulder injury. His unfamiliarity with the Rhino ball used in the PRO12 saw John Cooney handed the kicking duties and the scrum-half looked assured as he landed four from four. Boshoff, making his first start, was top class with his line-kicking and will have his favoured Gilbert ball for the next two weeks if he plays. Jack Carty scored and converted a try when introduced and will add to Lam’s selection headache. They had the bonus point wrapped by the break when hooker Tom McCartney crossed twice and loosehead Denis Buckley and winger Danie Poolman crossed for a 28-3 lead. Cooney, replacement hooker Dave Heffernan and Carty completed the rout.
T O’Halloran (J Carty 69); C Kelleher, S Ili, B Aki (R Parata 60), D Poolman; M Boshoff, J Cooney (C Blade 50); D Buckley (JP Cooney 60), T McCartney (D Heffernan , C Carey (D Robertson-McCoy 60); Q Roux, J Cannon; N Fox-Matamua, J Heenan (S O’Brien 59), J Muldoon (E McKeon 62).
D Odiete; A Esposito (A Pratichetti 39), M Tagicakibau (T Allan 62), A Sgarbi, L Sperandio; I McKinley, T Tebaldi (E Gori 54); A De Marchi (F Zani 46) (N Quaglio 69), D Giazzon (L Bigi 54), S Ferrari (M Zanusso 71); M Lazzaroni, M Fuser; A Steyn, R Santamaria (M Zanusso 30-40), M Barbini (V Flammini 56).
Ian Davies (WRU).