9 October 2012, 8:43am
A derby at Kingsholm means great excitement, and it pays to get to the ground early and soak up the atmosphere.
As we arrived well over an hour before the kick off at the park and ride, panic set in as the bus to the ground was nowhere to be seen and a few hundred fans were waiting.
Would we miss the start to the match? Well we did not, but appeared Gloucester did. Bath came storming out of the blocks in the very first minute of the match as our fired up dynamic props Paul James and Davey Wilson were involved in the first move of the game which resulted in Steven Donald running for the try line and, after just 33 seconds, we had scored. The conversion gave us a lead of 7-0 with barely two minutes on the clock.
The first quarter was played inside the Gloucester half as the forwards controlled possession, the backs had decent ball in which to attack the channels and in the kicking war Bath appeared to have got the measure of the opposition as they tactically gained yardage. Gloucester still had not got into the game by the 14th minute when Nick Abendanon, who received the ball out wide from Kyle Eastmond, appeared to have scored in the far corner to stretch the lead to 12. However Referee Dave Pearson, in his final match in charge of a Premiership game, went to the TMO who ruled that Eastmond was in touch before releasing the ball to Bendy. This was to be one of a few contentious but correct referrals to the TMO during the course of the game.
The first quarter of the game concluded with a penalty by Donald which gave Bath a 10-0 lead and silenced a stunned Shed, whilst delighting a gobsmacked away support that just started to dare believe in the first win at Kingsholm for some six years. Gloucester gradually started to wake from their slumber and Freddie Burns stroked two penalties through the uprights to reduce the lead at half time to just four points.
As the boys in blue, black and white strolled off the park at half time, the thought on many a fans' mind were Gary Gold's comments last week, "we need to learn how to finish off teams", as somehow Gloucester were still in this match and just four points adrift
We can only imagine what was said in the home team dressing room, as a different Gloucester team came out firing on all cylinders at the start of the second half. Where as the Bath forwards, led magnificently by Captain Lee Mears, supported by his outstanding front row pairing of Wilson and James, controlled the set pieces and possession in the first 40 minutes, Gloucester came at Bath with ferocity and purpose at the start of the second and started to boss proceedings.
Within a matter of minutes of the restart Shane Monahan had appeared to have scored under the posts. However the TMO ruled that excellent work from Tom Biggs and Ben Skirving had in fact stopped him short of the line, and a double movement by Rob Cook was penalised and a penalty awarded to Bath. However, this was just a short reprieve as Gloucester were dominant in all areas of open play, resulting in the full back Cook going over in the corner which was excellently converted by Burns and the Bath lead was to disappear for good.
The third quarter appeared to have knocked Bath sideways as uncharacteristic mistakes began to appear in key positions across the field. The replacing of Mears and Wilson after about an hour gave the initiative at the scrum to the opposition despite the herculean efforts of James, who remained at the coalface for a further 10 minutes. As the game drifted into the fourth quarter, the boys rallied on several occasions as the forwards drove toward the Gloucester try line. However, the final move or the final push over the line for a deserved try was just not going to happen. At the other end, Burns dropped a goal from 15 metres out to stretch the lead to 6 and shut the door on the boys. This Bath team just do not give up and a final flurry of great forward play followed, as Bath went for the win at Kingsholm. However it was just not meant to be.
Last year we were blown away at Kingsholm. This year we should have won. The Shed were mightily relieved! We have come a long way in a very short period under Coach Gold, now I'm off to Bucharest to watch the next instalment of what I hope is a journey to success.