Bath Rugby narrowly missed out on continuing their winning form as Gloucester edged the win by three points in a muddy West Country derby.
Any hopes of a wide expansive game had been drowned out by the horrendous weather resulting in both sides opting for the territorial kicks, hoping for the opposition to make a mistake and give away valuable territory and possession.
As the heavens poured down upon the Recreation Ground, the game ignited early on as a near full team brawl erupted. Referee Wayne Barnes sent both Bath's Ryan Caldwell and Gloucester's Jim Hamilton to the sin bin having sought the advice of both touch judges.
The Bath fans were on their feet shortly after as some excellent footballing skills from hooker Lee Mears put winger Tom Biggs away to touch down. Quick recycling from scrum half Michael Claassens found the waiting England hooker who, seeing a hole in behind the defence, put in an excellent grubber. The lightening Biggs out-sprinted Gloucester wing Charlie Sharples to dive on the ball and score. 5-0.
Gloucester hit back on the 17th minute after centre Mike Tindall blasted through a hole in the Bath defence. Fly half Freddie Burns took the ball flat, drawing in the Bath defence and allowing Tindall to take a short line and break away. Despite a thumping tackle by Sam Vesty preventing the centre scoring, Gloucester recycled at a blistering pace, eventually finding Nick Wood and the prop slid in to equal the scores. 5-5.
The Cherry and Whites looked dangerous with ball in hand and after some expansive phases the ball reached flanker Akapusi Qera who, despite having a man overlap, failed to use it and lost the ball forwards. However, Gloucester did come away with three points after play was brought back for the untaken penalty advantage. After an earlier easy miss, Burns made no mistake with this chance. 5-8.
Gloucester went in at half time ahead by six points following a further succesful penalty from Burns after an apparent high tackle by Biggs. 5-11.
The visitors came out the blocks the quicker at the start of the second half and were in control of most of the possession. With so much ball, Gloucester attacked hard and fast at the Bath line for numerous phases. However, Bath’s patience and discipline prevailed as their determined defence prevented a score and initiated an attack of their own. Whilst Gloucester's defence was also solid and staunch to begin with, they eventually crumbled under the pressure and Barkley didn't hesitate to slot a well-deserved three points.
Bath too looked to be gaining momentum with some promising drives and close forward work. Another penalty to Bath about 40 metres in front of the posts opened up the chance for the home side to level the game. Young fly half Tom Heathcote stepped up and under immense pressure slotted the all-important kick.
For a while it seemed impossible for Bath to be able to get out of their own half with the Gloucester back three using the aerial battle to full advantage. Bath's defence had been working hard all game and after what looked like a well taken ball, captain Francois Louw was penalised for not releasing the tackled player. Replacement fly half Ryan Mills added the three points to take Gloucester ahead once more. 11-14.
As the time ticked away, Gloucester tightened up their play and slowed the ball down. When Bath did have the ball the Cherry and Whites’ defence stood strong and seemed impenetrable. Despite an attacking line out inside the Gloucester 22, an error proved all too costly for the Blue, Black and Whites as the ball was lost forward and the game was over. Final Score Bath Rugby 11 Gloucester Rugby 14.