After two visits to Wales in the Pro 12, Connacht look forward to their return to the Sportsground (Sunday 5.15pm ) and the opportunity to consolidate their top six position.
Treviso are Sunday’s visitors and Connacht will be expected to claim their ninth win this season. If they do, they will set a new record for the highest points Connacht have scored in the Pro 12.
Despite the Italian side’s lowly position in the Guinness Pro 12 table, Connacht cannot afford to take Treviso for granted. And Pat Lam’s men have been forewarned. The Benetton rugby side will arrive full of enthusiasm and confidence having recorded their third win of the campaign last weekend. And they did it in style with a 40-24 win over Cardiff Blues - the first time they have beaten a side other than fellow Italians Zebre this season.
Now they are targeting Connacht to achieve their next milestone - their first away from home, and Lam says with seven rounds to go, it is neck and neck for that sixth place qualification spot.
“We still don’t have a safety net, and we have to perform. Treviso are a good side, particularly if they get their tails up. If you don’t handle the set piece well, you are in for a long day.”
Lam says Connacht need to bring the same intensity and more in their defence this week, having missed only one tackle in the Rodney Parade victory.
“Treviso are strong up front, but they also like moving the ball around. It’s like they have a new lease of life.
“We have now beaten our total score from last year - we had 35 and now we have 37, and if we win this weekend, we will set a new record as the highest points Connacht have scored in this Pro 12 structure, so there is a lot to play for. We have been setting little milestones throughout the season, and it’s nice to acknowledge them and create a little bit of history for ourselves.”
Lam will be without fullback Darragh Leader who injured his knee in the last play of the game against the Dragons, while Kieran Marmion remains sidelined. Both should be back next week, but Lam is hoping Mils Muliaina may be fully fit after his hamstring injury, while Tiernan O’Halloran is also available.
Up front Nathan White will also be monitored this week for possible inclusion, Ronan Loughney is back training and is available for selection.