Bath Rugby warmed up for next week's home Premiership Rugby semi-final against Leicester with a 50-30 victory at the Rec against Gloucester - making it six consecutive wins against their West Country rivals.
Despite strong pressure from Bath, Gloucester scored a well-worked try inside the first four minutes, cruising down the right wing before popping the ball back inside for number eight Lewis Ludlow to score. Fly-half Aled Thomas missed the conversion. 0-5.
On ten minutes, Peter Stringer gathered a fumbled ball at the lineout and Matt Banahan came on a bullocking charge against the grain. Banahan brought down, the ball made its way to Kyle Eastmond, who came on an arcing run then stepped gracefully inside the Gloucester defence to score. George Ford converted to give Bath the lead for the first time. 7-5.
Eastmond was at it again straight after the restart, showing blistering pace to outstrip the Gloucester backs. When he was finally caught, Eastmond sought to offload, only for the ball to hit a retreating defender. Fortunately for Bath, the ball deflected into Ford's grateful hands and the fly-half scored in the left corner. Ford was also able to add the two points. 14-5.
Bath were unable to quite pull clear, as Gloucester fly-half Aled Thomas made it 14-8 with a penalty kick with 15 minutes left in the first act. However, Bath had another trick up their sleeve. With a penalty quite literally in hand inside the visitors' 22, Ford made as if to kick to touch, only to tap and pass to Leroy Houston. The number eight's hit-up was effective, and in the melee the ball was shipped from Ford to Burgess, and the blindside scythed through powerfully for the team's third try. Ford could do no wrong with the tee in the first half either, further extending his side's lead. 21-8.
In the final minute of play, the visitors made Bath pay for a poor kick and chase when they intercepted the ball. Their counterattack caught Bath unaware as some fast passing put wing Steve McColl in for Gloucester's second try. Thomas watched his conversion attempt fall short, but Gloucester were now back in contention as the first half came to a close.
Half time: Bath Rugby 21-13 Gloucester
Gloucester started the second half strongly, taking their favoured route up the wing. Bath took a quick throw but were collared inside their 22 where they coughed up a penalty, kicked by Thomas. 21-16.
Ford then cancelled out Thomas's penalty with one of his own from just outside the Gloucester 10m. 24-16. A series of re-set scrums in Gloucester's 22 eventually resulted in their captain, Nick Wood, being yellow-carded. Ford then kicked the ball to touch.where Bath won the lineout. As the forwards inched closer to the Gloucester line, outside centre Ollie Devoto joined the fray and dived through for the try, which Ford converted. 31-16.
Bath had just set off on a fantastic run, with Burgess and Houston the catalysts, when Gloucester interecepted and McColl scored his second try of the match, which Thomas was able to convert. 31-23.
Horacio Agulla, fresh on the field, made an instant impact for Bath. Replacement loosehead Nick Auterac stole the ball from Gloucester which enabled the Argentinean to take the ball up. Agulla found Devoto, who stood strong in the tackle to send the ball wide where Anthony Watson dotted down. Replacement kicker Homer missed the converison attempt. 36-23.
It wasn't long before it was 43-23: a Bath lineout in the visitors' 22 turned into a drive, then breakdown, until the ball made its was to Rokoduguni who came in off his wing to take the five points. Homer converted. 43-23.
The damage may have been irreversibly done to Gloucester, but the men from Kingsholm continued to put up a fight. Replacement scrum-half Dan Robson did a show-and-go to score from a Gloucester lineout in Bath's 22, and Thomas made easy work of a tough conversion. 43-30.
Off the back of that try, Bath kicked into another gear. Awarded a penalty in the Gloucester half, a quick tap and pass saw the ball fall into the hands of Agulla, who scorched through the opponents to score the final try of the match. Homer added the extras and the game was up.
Full time: Bath Rugby 50-30 Gloucester
16 May 2015
Referee: Dean Richards
Half Time score: 21-13
- Tries: Eastmond (9), Ford (14), Burgess (28), Devoto (56), Watson (63), Rokoduguni (70), Agulla (79)
- Conversions: Ford (10, 15, 30, 57), Homer (71, 80)
- Penalties: Ford (46)
- Tries: Ludlow (3), McColl (39, 59), Robson (77)
- Conversions: Thomas (60, 78)
- Penalties: Thomas (24, 43)