Despite a spirited second-half comeback from Bath United, it was Gloucester United who took the West Country derby spoils with a 26-22 win at the Kingsholm Stadium in the Aviva A League.
Gloucester showed their intentions from the outset, dominating the early stages and the pressure paid off after six minutes with winger Henry Purdy going over in the corner for the first score of the evening. 5-0
The expansive playing style of the home side was met with some solid defence from the Bath unit, with both teams locking horns in the midfield.
Will Homer produced some flashes of brilliance from scrum-half, but the first opening for Bath came from debutant Robbie Fruean who chased down a kick and put the home side firmly on the back foot. The forwards went through the phases grinding out the metres, but were unable to capitalise on the pressure, with the Cherry and Whites holding strong in their 22.
The sustained pressure continued, but a moment of brilliant from the home side after 31 minutes saw them run the length of the field with centre Andy Symons producing the crucial reverse pass to set flanker Dan Thomas free to score under the posts. 12-0
Bath continued to plug away in attack in the closing stages of the half, but were unable to make the territory count. The half ended nearly in spectacular fashion with Levi Davis just unable to ground a cross field kick from fly-half Adam Hastings.
Half-time score: Gloucester United 12-0 Bath United
The second half started in similar fashion to the first with possession going back and forth between the two teams, but it was the boot of Will Partington, who slotted Bath’s first points of the evening with a penalty. 12-3
Just two minutes later, Gloucester extended their lead again after Dan Thomas charged down a Bath kick, which fell into the hands of replacement Josh McNulty, who had the simple task of touching down for his side’s third try of the evening. 19-3
It wasn’t long before the home side clinched a bonus point with winger David Halaifonua evading two tackles to take the score to 26-3 after 63 minutes.
However, Bath weren’t ready to give in without a fight and the comeback began with a flowing move which saw Paul Grant offload to winger Harry Davies, who touched down in the corner. Partington then slotted an excellent conversion from the touchline to close the gap. 26-10
There was further delight for Bath when Partington weaved and bounced off the Gloucester defence his way through the Gloucester defence to give the visiting side hope with 10 minutes left on the clock. 26-15
Fruean ensured that there would be a tense finale, as the towering centre finished a move straight off the training ground to split open the Gloucester defence and put Bath within four points of their rivals. However, despite their best efforts, the score remained in Gloucester’s favour and the thrilling encounter finished 26-22.
Full-time score: Gloucester United 26-22 Bath United