By Ali Stokes
A second West Country derby in as many weeks saw Bath hunting revenge after going down to Premiership returnees Bristol.
Todd Blackadder's men fell short of the opportunities created the previous week, but took a step further down their progression at the Rec, struggling to create try-scoring opportunities in the opening half of rugby.
Gloucester's blindside flanker Ruan Ackermann crossed for two unanswered tries in the first 26 minutes. The South African's first score came from a successful period of short-range assaults on Bath's line, a position acquired by a piece of typical Danny Cipriani playmaking.
The 31-year-old's interplay with half-back Callum Braly unleashed former Bath stalwart Matt Banahan down his familiar left wing, only stopped when Bath and England openside Sam Underhill charged in from midfield to pull the giant winger down.
Ackermann's second score was also a product of Cipriani's magic touch, picking the correct option between popping the ball to either inside centre Billy Twelvetrees or Ackermann, with the latter of the two sprinting in from 30-metres out untouched.
Braley extended the Cherry and White's lead to 21-0 with his sniping score, capitalising on a Bath defence firmly distracted by the threat of Cipriani.
The final act of the first-half came as a sight for sore eyes for Bath supporters, with Fijian-born England wing Semesa Rokoduguni rushing over in the right-hand corner after a long pass from fly-half Freddie Burns off the back of centre field, 5-metre scrum.
Burns and Rokoduguni will take the fans praise for the score that prevented a 21-0 scoreboard at the break, but a period of patient, one out runners allowed the home side to establish the field position needed to create the score.
The physical presence of Sam Underhill on both sides of the ball and Rokodiguni's score stood alone as first-half positives for Blackadder's charges, with rivals Gloucester presenting a constant, unresting threat centred around key man Cipriani.
While they stole the show with an almost all-encompassing opening first-half, Ackermann's Gloucester side struggled to reach the same levels after emerging from the changing rooms.
Bath continued Rokoduguni's antics by scoring 14 unanswered points via two tries for hooker Tom Dunn, tying the fixture up to 21 points apiece by the 65th minute.
The derby day contenders traded one penalty and one try apiece during the remaining 15 minutes, seeing the lead swap hands numerous times.
Bath's 76th-minute score came following a piece of individual brilliance from try-scorer Rokoduguni, who plucked the ball out of the air from Rhys Priestland's kick-off, permitting Bath the chance to spread the ball left and to create the space down the right wing for second row Elliot Stooke to cross.
At seven points down with just four minutes to go, Gloucester needed some magic if they were to steal a win. Who better to provide such a moment than Cipriani.
The mercurial playmaker shipped a no-look pass whilst under pressure from a rampaging Jamie Roberts to find Woodward, who spread the ball to right wing Matt Banahan, crossing for his first try at the Rec whilst not in Bath colours.
Under pressure ten metres out from Gloucester's line shortly after Banahan's score, Cipriani took the executive decision to put the ball out and finish his first Midlands derby 31-31, taking two points from the draw and an extra one for his side's four-try bonus point.
Tries: Semesa Rokoduguni (39), Tom Dunn (43, 64), Elliot Stooke (74)
Conversions: Freddie Burns (40, 47), Rhys Priestland (64, 75)
Penalties: Rhys Priestland (71)
Tries: Ruan Ackermann (15, 26), Callum Braly (33), Matt Banahan (78)
Conversions: Billy Twelvetrees (16, 26, 34, 78)
Penalties: Billy Twelvetrees (70)
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