Bath Rugby were denied a victory in the closing moments of the Anglo-Welsh clash against Gloucester, with the visitors scoring a 78th minute try to see the scores tied at 17-17 at the full-time whistle.
It was Gloucester who started the game in the ascendancy spending large parts of the first quarter in Bath territory. Centre Ben Tapuai, who was a thorn in the tail of the Cherry and Whites throughout the 80 minutes showed his defensive qualities with a last gasp tackle after eight minutes, but the resistance was broken shortly afterwards.
A rolling maul saw the Gloucester forwards drive towards the line, with hooker Darren Dawidiuk managing to find his way over the whitewash and James Hook adding the extras from the touchline with 10 minutes played. 0-7
In difficult conditions at the Recreation Ground, both teams sought to gain advantage from the boot with the backs trading kicks from deep. It was the visiting side, who almost doubled their tally for the evening, when Callum Braley found himself in space and looked almost certain to make the crucial score.
However, a back-tracking Aled Brew nullified the scoring threat with a superb tackle, which kept Bath within seven points after half an hour gone on the clock.
Shortly before the half-time interval, Rhys Priestland had the opportunity to open the scoring for Bath with a penalty on the 10 metre line. Following an infringement at the breakdown, the experienced fly-half made no mistake and slotted the penalty straight through the posts. 3-7
Half-time: Bath Rugby 3-7 Gloucester Rugby
The Blue, Black and White made a strong start to the second half and their persistence in attack paid off, when Priestland added another three-point score to take the derby clash into a one-point ball game with 48 minutes on the clock. 6-7
It didn't take long for the visitors to fight back, when Bath were penalised at the breakdown and Priestland's opposite number Hook regained Gloucester's four-point lead with a penalty from close range. 6-10
The tide then began to turn firmly in favour of Bath, with Priestland adding another three points, before scrum-half Chris Cook came agonisingly close to a try in the corner. An enterprising chip and chase from Brew saw the winger reclaim the ball and recycle the ball out wide to Cook, who fell just short of opening Bath’s try-scoring account for the evening. However, all was not lost as play came back for an earlier penalty and Priestland ensured that Bath took the lead for the first time in the game with 20 minutes to play. 12-10
Priestland continued to drive the Bath side forward with his defence-splitting kicking and came within a whisker of adding to the lead, but his drop-goal attempt just fell wide of the posts.
With six minutes left of the game, a moment of brilliance saw the home side break through the Gloucester defence. A clever chip and chase from Max Clark sent Bath into Gloucester territory, which was followed by a piece of magic from Tapuai with ball in hand. After picking up a loose ball, the jinking centre bamboozled the opposition defence with a dummy before offloading to debutant Harry Davies, who in turn found the on-rushing Brew, with the Welshman finishing off a finely crafted move. 17-10
With less than two minutes on the clock, Gloucester piled forwards and their persistence paid off with Ben Vellacott finding a gap in the Bath defence to score their second try of the evening, which was converted by Hook to tie the proceedings at the final whistle.
Final score: Bath Rugby 17-17 Gloucester Rugby