A brace from Jeff Williams helped Bath Rugby get their home season off to a flying start with a 30-21 win over local rivals Gloucester in the West Country Challenge Cup.
Fullback Tom Homer, on kicking duties for the evening, got the first three points on the board for the home side after Gloucester were penalised at the lineout. The lead was extended after nine minutes, with Jeff Williams scoring his first try in Bath colours. A strong maul worked its way towards the Gloucester line - Nick Auterac controlling the ball at the back. He offloaded to Chris Cook, who fed Williams to go over in the corner from short range. 8-0.
Gloucester hooker Richard Hibbard provided Rob Cook with a neat offload that allowed the fullback to find a gap in the Bath defence and cross the whitewash unopposed. Captain Billy Twelvetrees added the extras to make it a one point game. 8-7.
The visitors enjoyed a period of possession throughout the middle of the half, but it was Bath who scored next, again through ex-England 7s star Williams. The winger raced his way down the left touchline, evading the oncoming defenders to score his second of the night in the corner. The tricky touchline conversion attempt from Homer drifted just wide.
Half-time: Bath Rugby 13 – Gloucester Rugby 7.
A yellow card to Gloucester second row Tom Savage early in the second-half saw Bath with the man advantage, and they made it count with a series of scrums eventually seeing referee Tim Wigglesworth awarding a penalty try to the home side. Homer was on hand to add the two points, taking the lead to 20-7.
A relatively even game developed throughout the second-half, although Gloucester once again made possession count when replacement Willi Heinze scored from within five metres and Hook converted. 20-14.
Despite the visitors looking strong and both sides making replacements, Bath kept their shape and kept the lead throughout the remainder of the game. Homer added a further three points with eight minutes left to play, before replacements Zach Mercer and Jonathan Evans combined to see the scrum-half score in the corner after a scintillating break along the right wing from the young Academy back rower. Homer was on target for the conversion.
To their credit, Gloucester weren't giving up, and their hard work paid off as Olly Thorley snuck over as the clock went dead. Hook added the conversion with the last play of the game, but it didn’t take away from a strong home effort.
Final score: Bath Rugby 30 – Gloucester Rugby 21