Bath Rugby snatched a thrilling 12-17 win in the second West Country derby of the season, thanks to two superb tries from winger Semesa Rokoduguni.
It was Bath's third consecutive victory at Kingsholm, making them the first side to achieve that feat in the professional era.
After trailing 9-7 at the break, Bath got the better of their rivals in the second half at Kingsholm thanks to a brilliant piece of footwork just three minutes from the end of what was a brutal, physical contest.
Bath welcomed back Grand Slam winners George Ford, Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson after their successful stint with England, whereas Nathan Catt made his first start of the season in the front row.
The hosts made seven changes to the side which lost to London Irish last weekend, handing starts to Greig Laidlaw and Ross Moriarty after their Six Nations campaigns for Scotland and Wales respectively.
In weather conditions suited for anything but running rugby, it was the hosts who opened the scoring courtesy of Laidlaw’s boot.
Matt Garvey attempted to take a high ball, but when it was knocked forward, the Scotland international’s kick crept over.
Bath’s nerves were clear to see early on. Watson, magnificent for England last week, kicked out on the full two minutes later leading to another Gloucester penalty with nine minutes on the clock.
Laidlaw again made no mistake, increasing the lead to six.
As expected, the contest became a physical midfield battle soon after – but Watson showed his class with a jinking run through the middle before his chip and chase was claimed just five yards from the try line.
However, despite the early pressure from the Cherry and Whites, it was Bath who scored the first try of the evening.
A tremendous Henry Thomas burst, breaking through two tackles, saw the tighthead find support runner Chris Cook, who cantered under the posts.
Ford kicked the extras, handing the lead to the visitors.
Bath’s advantage lasted only two minutes, as yet another easy Gloucester penalty courtesy of Laidlaw left the score 9-7 midway through the first half.
Gloucester controlled the majority of the territory for the remainder of the half, but the Bath backs began to flex their muscles as the rain continued to soak the Kingsholm pitch.
Flashes of Bath brilliance were often followed up by handling errors from both sides – however when Rokoduguni seized on a loose ball with a minute to go until half time, the visitors had another scoring opportunity.
After Gloucester failed to roll away from a ruck on the far side, George Ford - usually metronomic from the boot – could only put his effort wide.
Half-time: Gloucester Rugby 9-7 Bath Rugby
Bath were the first out the blocks after the interval – and made the pressure count.
Having held the ball for a number of phases, the ball was spread wide to Rokoduguni – and from ten metres out, the winger sidestepped his way to the line to dive over for his sixth try in four consecutive games. Ford missed the difficult conversion, putting Bath three points ahead.
Outstanding work from Dom Day, just metres from his own try line, meant a response from the hosts was muted – however a string of infringements kept the penalty count totting up and the pressure firmly on the Bath defence.
Laidlaw slotted a kick in front of the posts after referee Wayne Barnes had seen enough, and the game was all square once more.
With the hosts keeping the ball for long periods of the second half, Bath’s defence continued to cling on – and when a handling error during a ruck gave Bath a scrum, a rare foray into Gloucester’s half looked promising.
After Gloucester were penalised for wheeling the scrum, Ford was presented with another shot at goal – but the swirling wind meant the kick fell just short.
After the teams traded infringements, Rokoduguni rescued the situation for Bath - and after picking the ball out from the back of a ruck, he darted through the defence and powered over the line with just two minutes left on the clock.
Ford again couldn’t add the extras, but with so little time left on the clock, Bath’s tails were up and they held on to record a famous victory.
Full-time: Gloucester Rugby 12-17 Bath Rugby
Report by Dan Brown
26 March 2016
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Half Time score: 9-7
- Penalties: Laidlaw (3, 8, 16, 55)
- Tries: Cook (13), Rokoduguni (43, 75)
- Conversions: Ford (14)