Only once before have Connacht lost their opening two league matches at the Sportsground but Pat Lam appreciates they must show significant improvement to prevent that happening again when Ospreys come to Galway this evening (7.35pm).
The 41-5 drubbing by Glasgow Warriors last weekend, when the Scots got sweet revenge for two defeats in May in the Sportsground which ended their title defence, has cranked up the pressure on Connacht.
The champions went into that encounter with just one warm-up clash against Montpellier under their belt, and it showed, but Lam is hopeful, to borrow a phrase from Kerry football, that game will rid them of dirty petrol.
While Connacht did the double over the Swansea-based side last year, Ospreys have won 18 of the 26 clashes and there has yet to be a draw in the fixture. Lam, who steered Connacht to 14 wins in 15 home matches last season, knows they will get nothing soft from a side who ran in eight tries in a 59-5 hammering of Zebre.
“Ospreys are good, they always have been. They are a quality side and last year was a disappointment for them. They said it themselves. They expect to beat Connacht and we know that they will be coming hard at us,” said Lam.
A growing injury list, which now includes summer signing from Leinster Cian Kelleher, has prompted four changes but the availability of new Irish full-back Tiernan O’Halloran and his international colleague Kieran Marmion, adds substance.
“We know what’s coming and we have got to be better. And I know that we will be better,” added Lam.
T O’Halloran; N Adeolokun, E Griffin, B Aki, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; R Loughney, T McCartney, F Bealham; U Dillane, D Qualter; E McKeon, J Connolly, J Muldoon.
D Heffernan, D Robertson-McCoy, JP Cooney, L Stevenson, R Moloney, C Blade, S O’Leary, D Poolman.
D Evans; J Hassler, B John, J Matavesi, E Walker; S Davies, R Webb; N Smith, S Parry, D Arhip; B Davies, R Thornton; O Cracknell, J Tipuric, T Ardron.
S Baldwin, P James, M Fia, L Ashley, J King, D Baker, T Habberfield, D Howells.
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