Bath return to form in emphatic victory over Gloucester in West Country derby.
Photo credit: @PremRugby
Bath took the short trip cross country to face local rivals Gloucester in another classic West Country Derby, taking an emphatic win from their visit to Kingsholm. Bath headed into the fixture off the back of a 41-6 spanking at Saracens hands and responded perfectly this weekend.
A pleasant evening for Bath officially kicked off when Tom Dunn proved there is more to his game than his usual workman-like efforts in defence. A well-executed support line and spin to score in the first minute of the game saw the England hopeful cross the whitewash for a rare try for the 25-year-old.
The Cherry and Whites may have been the form side heading into the matchup, but Bath were visibly dead-set on upsetting odds. The visitors displayed a ferocious side unseen for some months. Loosehead Beno Obano, Dunn, captain Charlie Ewels and James Wilson in particular led from the front, dominating the contact area and taking the game to Gloucester. When Ewels was forced off the pitch with an ankle injury in the first-half, Bath were at risk of losing the man setting the stall for their performance. Fortunately, the visitor's galvanisation during the week was enough to carry on full steam ahead.
Such was the intensity of Bath's first-half performance, a try-bonus point was secured within 33 minutes, heading into a 10-26 lead after a superb Tom Homer run. The former London Irish fullback carved through the middle of a reorganising Gloucester defence, seeing off Mark Atkinson, Billy Burns and Jason Woodward for a 40-metre solo effort.
With the abscence of England and Lions star Anthony Watson, Homer's return to form after a lengthy injury layoff will have been a sight for sore eyes for the white, black and blue.
Gloucester had come out of the changing rooms for the second 40 in an abrasive manner, sending Woodward over the line following Ben Morgan's well-timed linebreak, getting the better of Francois Louw. Unfortunately for Gloucester fans, this period of ascendancy was short-lived and Bath came back with two tries from Cooper Vuna and Wilson. Gloucester began to force things and allowed Bath's quick defensive speed to fluster them, throwing the types of speculative passes that saw Wilson pick off the intercept for his score.
Bath showed Tigers the way to hold onto a lead is to keep pressing, turning the screw on Gloucester for the full 80 minutes. The pressure from the men in blue forced key mistakes from the usually composed centre pairing of Atkinson and Twelvetrees.
An excellent performance from Bath, showing a level of accuracy previously absent for the majority of the season, rearing its head sporadically over the last eight months. Despite the impressive manner of their victory, Bath fans will be left with a feeling of frustration, wondering where this particular side has been throughout the 2017/18 campaign.
Gloucester's playoff hopes have taken a significant blow today; failing to register a losing bonus point looks likely to rule them out of a top-four finish come the end of round 22 next week. A final game of the Premiership's regular season away to Saracens next week will not be filling many Gloucester fans with confidence. A Challenge Cup final the following weekend in sunny Spain looks to be the highlight of the season and in all honesty, it's not a bad way to end the first season under the leadership of former Springbok Johan Ackermann.
Tries: Woodward, Slater
Conversions: Twelvetrees (2/2)
Penalties: Twelvetrees (2/2)
Tries: Dunn, Priestland, Brew, Homer, Vuna, Wilson
Conversions: Priestland (4/6)
Penalties: Priestland (1/1)