Kingsholm win keeps LV= Semi Final hopes alive

Bath Rugby kept their hopes of qualifying for an LV= Cup Semi-Final alive this afternoon with a bonus point 5-32 win over old West Country rivals Gloucester Rugby.

After the two sides had gone in even-stevens at half-time with five points apiece, 27 unanswered second-half points gave the visitors their first victory at Kingsholm since 2006.

Bath started the game much the brighter of the two sides, and a series of early penalties were dispatched to touch by Stephen Donald, signalling the visitors' attacking intent from the start.  First Rob Webber and then the pack forced their way over the line, only for referee Ian Davies to rule no try.

Bath were bossing the opening proceedings, enjoying the lion's share of possession and territory. Just over 10 minutes had gone when Andy Hazell was sent to the sin-bin after a dangerous tip tackle on Webber. The extra man immediately came into play for the visitors. From the lineout the ball was spread quickly across the line, and after good hands from both Peter Stringer and Sam Vesty, the home defence was stretched too far and Olly Woodburn strolled over in the corner. 0-5.

Another ten minutes into the game and, just as Hazell was returning to the field, Tom Savage took his place on the Gloucester naughty step after he was found guilty of pulling a player down in the lineout. This time though there was no advantage gained from Bath, as the home side stood firm in defence and started to look for ways to attack from turnover ball.

Nick Abendanon and Matt Banahan were looking lively in attack for the visiting side, both being involved in a number of sparkling runs.

With just five minutes left of the half, a Gloucester lineout provided their only score of the game, as hooker Huia Edmonds bundled over from short range. Rob Cook missed the conversion, seeing the two sides go in level at the break. 5-5.

Gloucester came out quickly and looked as if they may have scored, but some strong Bath defence held Lua Lokotui short of the line, and then forced a penalty.

Turnover ball gave Bath the chance to run from deep, with Donald, Woodburn, Abendanon, Banahan and Horacio Agulla all combining to take play into the Gloucester half. Charlie Sharples was forced into touch and it created the opportunity for Bath's second try.

Clean lineout ball saw quick recycling across the field with Donald, Banahan and Agulla all heavily involved once more, before Abendanon finished off the move in the corner, exploiting the well-crafted three on two. 5-10.

Playing into the wind, the visitors were taking every opportunity to run the ball. The next points came from the only attempted penalty of the game however, Vesty extending Bath's lead after the home side were found guilty of pulling down the lineout on 62 minutes.

Just five minutes later, and Bath had their third try – an act which saw the Gloucester fans in the infamous Shed start leaving early. Clever linking play between Donald and Woodburn started the move, and allowed Mat Gilbert, who had come on as a replacement for Ben Skirving in the back row, to pick the ball up from the back of the ruck and barge his way over for his first try in Bath colours. Vesty's conversion attempt came back off the post, but Bath had opened up a commanding lead with under 15 minutes left to play. 5-18.

Army star Semesa Rokoduguni added the bonus point try with just under 10 minutes to go, dodging out of the first Gloucester tackle and then gliding through the rest to gallop his way to the line. Vesty added the extras, taking the lead to 5-25.

The final try, from Donald, came in an almost exact replica of Rokoduguni's, with the fly-half cantering through the Gloucester defence to score in almost the same spot as the winger. Vesty was again successful with the conversion, and the game was won.

Bath now have to wait the result of the Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints match this evening to see if they have qualified for the knock-out stages of their second tournament of the season.

Final score – Gloucester Rugby 5 – Bath Rugby 32.

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