Bath put in an impressive performance as they overcame West Country rivals Gloucester 31-25 at the Recreation Ground on Friday.
Bath put in a strong performance as they overcame West Country rivals Gloucester 31-25 at the Rec on Friday.
The home side got off to a flying start as an early Tom Heathcote penalty was swiftly followed by a penalty try when Charlie Sharples tugged back Tom Biggs just as it looked like he was in a position to touch the ball down.
It turned out to be a double blow for the Cherry and Whites as well as Sharples was sent to the sin-bin. But they didn't let that faze them and they halved the deficit before they were back to their full complement as Henry Trinder charged down Nick Abendanon's kick and picked the ball up off his toes to dot it down.
And the visitors took the lead midway through the first-half as Freddie Burns and Trinder laid the ball on a plate for Jonny May to score in the corner and Burns slotted over the conversion from the left-hand touchline.
The game continued to swing back and forth though and Bath stormed back into the match as Heathcote knocked over a penalty before bursting through a couple of tackles and finding Kyle Eastmond on his shoulder to finish the move off.
Rob Cook, who took over the kicking duties from Burns after several misses, and Heathcote then kicked two penalties apiece to leave the game finely poised as the second half developed.
Gloucester's task looked to have been made almost impossible on 50 minutes as Darren Dawidiuk was given a straight red card for a dangerous tip tackle but a yellow for Carl Fearns not long afterwards made it 14-a-side for a 10-minute spell.
The match looked to be over moments later as slick handling from Eastmond and Abendanon put Biggs in the left-hand corner for the killer try but Gloucester responded admirably.
Cook outpaced Rob Webber with ease wide on the left-hand side and gave May the opportunity to score his second of the evening and set up a tense finish to the game that had not looked likely when Dawidiuk was sent off.
And the Cherry and Whites battled bravely until the end but Bath held on with the benefit of the extra man to move to within three points of their near neighbours in the Aviva Premiership table.
Tries: Penalty, Eastmond, Biggs
Con: Heathcote 2
Pen: Heathcote 4
Yellow: Fearns (58 mins)
Tries: Trinder, May 2
Con: Burns, Cook
Pen: Cook 2
Yellow: Sharples (4 mins)
Red: Dawidiuk (49 mins)
Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Ben Skirving, 7 Carl Fearns, 6 Francois Louw (c), 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Dominic Day, 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Mat Gilbert, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Sam Vesty, 23 Semsea Rokoduguni.
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Mike Tindall (c), 11 Jonny May, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Tom Savage, 5 Will James, 4 Lua Lokotui, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Peter Buxton, 20 Andy Hazell, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Ryan Mills, 23 Martyn Thomas.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Stuart Terheege, Ashley Rowden
Television match official: Geoff Warren