A Bath Rugby team shorn of internationals and featuring a host of young debutants came undone at the Memorial Stadium today, losing 50-7 to a strong Gloucester Rugby side.
The scoring for this West Country Challenge Cup match - played in Bristol due to Kingsholm's hosting of Rugby World Cup fixutres - was opened after six minutes, when Gloucester drew in the Bath defence on halfway, enabling Charlie Sharples to race away down the wing for the try. Welsh fly-half James Hook missed the conversion. 5-0.
Within another five minutes, Gloucester scored on the opposite wing, this time through Henry Purdy. Hook again failed to convert. 10-0.
Bath showed much promise in the following minutes, but when they were shorn of possession at a maul in their opponents' 22, it looked like another try was beckoning as Gloucester counterattacked. Although Bath were unable to stop the Cherry and Whites from scoring, in the act of doing so Luke Arscott was shown yellow for a late tackle.
A man down, and with the put-in in their own 22, Bath proceeded to run the ball from the scrum - only to knock on. Billy Twelvetrees snatched the bouncing ball and swiftly fed Sharples for the winger's second try of the match, which Hook converted. 17-0.
England international Matt Kvesic was the beneficiary of a powerful driving maul from Gloucester near the half-hour mark. Hook added the two points to make it 24-0.
Not long after, the streetwise Gloucester pack were awarded a penalty try and Hook's conversion took his personal tally to six points. 31-0.
A dream finish to the first 40 saw lethal finisher Sharples score his hat-trick after a neat draw-and-pass from his inside man. Hook struck the difficult conversion with pin-point accuracy.
Half time: Gloucester Rugby 38-0 Bath Rugby
If Bath were somewhat shell-shocked in the first half, they emerged from the tunnel for the second a much more assured unit.
Rather than shrink in the face of adversity, the young team, led by the indomitable captain Charlie Ewels, grew in stature and confidence, forcing Gloucester into making errors and putting together some decent phases.
When Gloucester's Callum Braley scored the Cherry and Whites' sixth try - converted by Twelvetrees - in the penultimate quarter of the match, Bath kept faith in the good things they were doing, and showed themselves to be quick learners. 45-0.
After an hour, Bath were now working their way into good positions through the boot of inside centre Rory Jennings and fly-half Adam Hastings. The latter, taking the ball off the lineout, passed to Jennings, who put in an excellent delayed pass to his England U20 teammate Max Clark. The outside centre ghosted through the Gloucester defence and put his foot on the accelerator for Bath's first and only try of the day. Hastings added the extras. 45-7.
The final word of the match went to the 'home' team, who made their half-century through a short-distance catch-and-drive to touch down via Darren Thomas. Twelvetrees was unable to convert.
Full time: Gloucester Rugby 50-7 Bath Rugby