Bath Rugby fought back from 21 points down to claim a 31-31 draw against West Country rivals Gloucester Rugby at the Rec.
It was end to end action in the opening quarter, but the game remained scoreless until the 15th minute.
It was Danny Cipriani, who opened the Bath defence, as the fly-half sent a clever grubber kick through from halfway. Billy Twelvetrees collected the ball and offloaded in the tackle to Lewis Ludlow, who carried the ball into the Bath 22. Play was spread to Henry Trinder, before Matt Banahan charged through to five metre line. Following several phases, Ruan Ackerman was able to bundle his way over from close range. Cipriani added the conversion to give his side the early lead. [0-7]
The visitors doubled their lead just over 10 minutes later, with Cipriani pulling the strings once again. The England international drew the Bath defence before sending a perfectly weighted pass to Ackerman, who went through the gap to score his and Gloucester’s second try of the match. [0-14]
Gloucester increased their lead to 21 points, six minutes before the interval. It was Callum Braley, who went over under the posts after good work from Billy Twelvetrees at the breakdown. Cipriani extended Gloucester’s lead with the conversion. [0-21]
In the last action of the first half, Bath got their first points of the afternoon. The Blue, Black and White put pressure on the Gloucester line, and their patience was rewarded. The ball was recycled to the right wing and Freddie Burns sent a long pass to Rokoduguni, who finished in the corner. Burns’ touchline conversion went straight through the uprights to reduce the deficit. [7-21]
Half-time - Bath Rugby 7-21 Gloucester Rugby
The home side came out of the blocks quickly in the second-half, with Joe Cokanasiga coming within touching distance of a try. Nathan Catt released the winger out wide, but was agonisingly bundled into touch just short of the line. However, Bath managed to steal subsequent line-out, and Tom Dunn crashed over from close range. Burns’ conversion took Bath to within seven points on the scoreboard with just 42 minutes played. [14-21]
It got even better for the Blue, Black and White, as they levelled the scores with just over 15 minutes to play. An intelligent kick on halfway from Max Green, was gathered by Rokoduguni, with the winger making strides into the Gloucester 22. The forwards ground out the hard metres before Dunn crashed over for his second of the game. Replacement Rhys Priestland brought the scores level with the successful conversion attempt. [21-21]
Gloucester hit back with Jason Woodward showing his attacking intent with a 50 metre dart into the Bath 22. Moments later, Referee Luke Pearce signalled for the penalty and the reliable Twelvetrees put Gloucester three in front with just 10 minutes to play. [21-24]
The drama continued from the restart, as Rokoduguni leapt highest to put Bath back on the attack close to the Gloucester line. Bath continued to press the Cherry and White defence, and a penalty soon followed for the hosts. Priestland stepped up once again to draw the sides level once again. [24-24]
Bath struck again soon after, with the forwards setting up another scoring opportunity. Jackson Willison found space in the Gloucester 22, before sending a looping pass to Elliott Stooke to finish in the corner. Priestland gave Bath a seven-point advantage with five minutes left. [31-24]
Gloucester weren’t ready to give in without a fight and struck two minutes before the final whistle through none other than Matt Banahan. Gloucester worked their way up into the Bath’s 22, earning a penalty which Cipriani sent into the corner. The visitors kept plugging away at the Bath defence before Cipriani sent Banahan through for a try on his return to the Rec. Twelvetrees kept his composure from the tee to see the game finish all square in a thrilling derby encounter.
Full-time - Bath Rugby 31-31 Gloucester Rugby
8 September 2018
Referee: Luke Pearce
Half Time score: 7-21
- Tries: Rokoduguni (39), Dunn (42, 63), Stooke (73)
- Conversions: Burns (40, 43), Priestland (63, 75)
- Penalties: Priestland (71)
- Tries: Ackermann (14, 25), Braley (33), Banahan (77)
- Conversions: Twelvetrees (15, 26, 34, 78)
- Penalties: Twelvetrees (69)