Connacht counting the cost of congested schedule as attention turns to Ravenhill

IT SAYS A great deal about how far Connacht have come over the past few years that, nearly a week on from their defeat at the RDS, Pat Lam’s side are still licking their wounds and mulling over what might have been.

The Westerners’ four game winning run came to an end in the capital on Friday but such is the congested schedule at this time of year, there is little time for agonising over bygone failings.

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On St Stephen’s Day, the inter-provincial leg of the Guinness Pro12 continues with Connacht travelling to face Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium and Lam hopes his side will learn from the mistakes they made against Leinster.

“We always knew this was going to be a very tough period of games,” he said. “We were very disappointed to come away from the RDS with no points last week.

“We went through the process of acknowledging what we did well but more importantly highlighting what we could have done better against Leinster to help us prepare for another massive game on Friday.”

With the games coming thick and fast, the Connacht medical staff are in overdrive as they try to patch up the walking wounded. Eoin McKeon will be given every opportunity to prove his fitness before the team is named at noon but Tiernan O’Halloran and Fionn Carr have already been ruled out of the trip to Belfast.

Michael Swift is now among those doubtful for Friday’s game after sustaining a knock in training.

Swift took a heavy knock in training on Monday Source: Inpho

“Obviously, like other teams, we’re battling with a few injuries, and niggles,”  Lam continued. ”But the boys have dusted themselves off, picked themselves up and trained well in tough conditions. They are looking forward to another opportunity of a win away from home in an interpro game.”

Ulster have won just one of their last four outings in all competitions and although Connacht have not won at Ravenhill since 1960, Lam believes his charges now have the confidence to go away from Galway and pick up points.

“Ulster are an enormously proud team and like us, are undefeated at home this season. It will be a very hard place for us to go and play against a side stacked with quality players. But if we correct some of the issues we had against Leinster, and add in the belief that we have shown in games this season, it will give us the best opportunity for points.”

Just four points separate the two sides in the Pro12 standings and the visitors know a win would see them leapfrog their provincial rivals into fifth place and just outside the play-off berths.

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