Bath lose battle against Gloucester

After Steve Meehan called for an aggressive campaign against Gloucester earlier this week, the players responded with exactly that - putting up a fierce and intense battle against their bitter rivals at Kingsholm.

Within 80 minutes, spectators were treated to two tries from Bath hooker Rob Hawkins, one from Andrew Higgins making his 100th appearance for Bath and three tries in four minutes by the home side.

From the start, both teams went into the match with a ferocity reserved only for derby clashes such as these and within the opening minute Michael Claassens was forced off after sustaining a knock to the head whilst in the ruck. However, the loss of the scrum half failed to hold back the Bath attack and hooker Hawkins burst over the line two minutes later for the opening five points of the match. With Butch James booting a successful conversion, Bath shot into the lead with seven points.

Riled by the speed with which Bath had won points, Gloucester swept into Bath's territory and Apo Satala made a strong bid for a try. However, the Bath defence denied him his five points and it was not until captain Alex Crockett was yellow carded for the team being persistently offside that Carlos Spencer was able to award Gloucester with some points.

The fierce battle continued for a further 10 minutes as Gloucester were penalised when Iain Balshaw failed to release the ball in a ruck and James put his boot back into action, slotting the ball directly between the sticks for another three digits. Once again, the points enjoyed by Bath acted as a catalyst for Gloucester and James Simpson-Daniel and Olly Morgan made a break towards the corner. With Bath refusing to break defence, neither the centre nor full back could get across the line until a rapid sprint from Simpson-Daniel sent him over the line where he planted the ball just inside the dead ball line. The following three minutes saw two more tries from Sharples and another from Simpson-Daniel catapulting Gloucester into the lead with 20 points to 10 with just one conversion.

With the impetus to get back on the attack, some exhilarating interplay between Crockett, Higgins and Duncan Bell offered Bath some much needed ground and after Bell offloaded to Matt Banahan to make even more headway, Hawkins was perfectly placed one again to score his second try. With just three minutes left on the clock, James's successful conversion was took Bath to within three points of their hosts, but just before the whistle, replacement Barkley stepped up to boot a penalty for his new-team, kicking the hosts into a six-point lead at the half-time whistle.

Returning after the break, Bath came back determined to continue the onslaught of attack and James Scaysbrook made a break down the wing, swiftly passing to Peter Short who continued the charge and offloaded inside for James and Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu. Under pressure, Gloucester's Anthony Allen received the yellow card for entering the ruck from the side and James slotted another penalty.

As was becoming typical for this match, each time one team scored, the other would respond with points of their own and rather than change the trend of the first half, Iain Balshaw chased a kick down the wing, competing with Bath winger Banahan to reach the ball. However, it was Rory Lawson who scooped up the ball and he grounded it to score Gloucester's fourth try. Barkley's successful conversion from the 22 metre line meant that by 47 minutes, the hosts were leading by 30 points to 20.

Preventing the spectators for having time to take a breath, Higgins, just two minutes later continued in his recent form and grabbed five more points for Bath and the conversion took Bath up to 27 points. The visitors were now barking at the heels of the home side and baying for blood. Unfortunately, a Bath offence gave Barkley the chance to leave his old club further behind as he booted another penalty at 53 minutes.

As the intensity heightened, Gloucester prop Nick Wood was yellow carded.for a high tackle on Maddock only to be followed into the sin bin by Alex Crockett for the second time. Barkley went for the penalty and his successful kick gave Gloucester a 36-27 lead with 15 minutes left.

As the clock counted down the final five minutes, James was handed the ball to try and rescue his team with a penalty kick, but as the ball fell short just before the sticks, the win seemed to be slipping from Bath's fingers.

A last Gloucester offence gave Bath that last ditch attempt to reclaim the victory, but with just over one minute left, and James's kick falling wide, Gloucester walked away with the win. Final score 36-27.

Bath Rugby:

15. Joe Maddock, 14. Andrew Higgins, 13. Alex Crockett (c), 12. Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 11. Matt Banahan, 10. Butch James, 9. Michael Claassens, 1. David Barnes, 2. Rob Hawkins, 3. Duncan Bell, 4. Justin Harrison, 5. Peter Short, 6. Andy Beattie, 7. James Scaysbrook, 8. Daniel Browne

16. Mark Lilley, 17. Aaron Jarvis, 18. Stuart Hooper, 19. Jonny Faamatuainu, 20. Scott Bemand, 21. Shaun Berne, 22. Michael Stephenson

Gloucester team:

15. Olly Morgan, 14. Iain Balshaw, 13. James Simpson-Daniel, 12. Anthony Allen, 11. Charlie Sharples, 10. Carlos Spencer, 9. Rory Lawson, 1. Nick Wood, 2. Olivier Azam, 3. Greg Somerville, 4. Adam Eustace, 5. Alex Brown, 6. Apo Satala, 7. Andy Hazell, 8. Gareth Delve (c)

16. Andy Titterrell, 17. Jack Forster, 18. Danny Wright, 19. Dan Williams, 20. Ryan Lamb, 21. Olly Barkley, 22. Mark Foster

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