After a brief respite, Connacht Rugby return to Pro12 action and face an improving Newport Gwent Dragons in Newport this evening (7.30pm).
Expectations have grown considerably since Connacht’s victory over Scarlets 12 days ago and, on paper, third placed Connacht look favourites against the Dragons in 10th place.
However, Lam believes it belies the strength of Lyn Jones’ side, particularly at home, where they have taken the scalps of both Leinster and Munster this season, while only losing in the dying minutes to Ulster last weekend.
“We are under no illusions going down there, as Leinster and Munster found out, and we don’t want to fall in that trap. They have completely changed their attack shape, and improved a lot. They should have won against Ulster last weekend.
“Although we have not lost to them for a while, they are always tough to put away. We know it starts up front, and coming off a good performance [against Scarlets], we need to build on that.” Lam has made three changes to his starting XV with Aj MacGinty coming in for the injured Jack Carty. Craig Ronaldson offers support to MacGinty, taking over at inside centre, with Bundee Aki moving to 13, while up front the only change sees Rodney Ah You come in for Finlay Bealham. Bealham, along with Ultan Dillane and scrumhalf Kieran Marmion have been released this week from Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad, and are all named on the bench.
After their loss to Ulster, the Dragons are expected to produce a huge response this evening.
They have made four changes to that team with Nick Scott named on the wing for Hallom Amos, while outhalf Jason Tovey returns to full fitness and is named alongside influential scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius.
The fourth change is in the back row where New Zealander Nick Croswell joins Ben White and Nic Cudd.
NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS:
C Meyer, A Hewitt, A Hughes, A Warren, N Scott, J Tovey, S Pretorius; P Price, E Dee, B Harris, M Screech, R Landman (cpt), B White, N Cudd, N Crosswell. Replacements, R Buckley, B Stankovich, S Knight, C Hill, J Benjamin, C Davies, A O’Brien, G Rhys Jones.
T O’Halloran, D Poolman, B Aki, C Ronaldson, M Healy, A MacGinty, C Blade, B Buckley, T McCartney, R Ah You, A Muldowney, G Naoupu, J Muldoon (cpt), J Heenan, E Masterson. Replacements, D Heffernan, R Loughney, F Bealham, U Dillane, E McKeon, K Marmion, P Robb, R Parata.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved