Gloucester snatch victory at the death in the West country derby!
Gloucester snatched a last gasp converted try to deny West country rivals Bath an undefeated October at the Rec, to win an epic contest 21-22 this afternoon.
Travelling down to Bath, Gloucester were looking to end their horrific winless away form this season and from the first collision they made sure that Bath knew they would not have a comfortable afternoon in store. Expecting to see plenty of ball in hand and attacking rugby, the game will be remembered for a tough duel from both sets of defensives as the pendulum continually rocked back and forth.
The first try was to the visitors and came from good work by in-form centre Henry Trinder who offloaded to scrum half Willi Heinz who went down in the left hand corner to open the scoring. With a strong wind Owen Williams couldn’t supply the conversion as the ball sailed just past the post. Needing a response and to get the crowd into action, Jonathan Joseph broke through the clutches of Williams and released Anthony Watson who raced down the right hand touchline and sent an easy pass across to Semesa Rokoduguni who didn’t disappoint and went over in the corner.
Rhys Priestland made amends from missing his hard conversion by landing a much easier penalty to take Bath into a hard fought halftime lead 8-5. The first half was a scrappy and tight affair that Gloucester would have been disappointed going in behind, as they had the better chances and more of the ball. Bath needed to come out in the second half and try to get some forward momentum with ball in hand.
Having been called up to the England squad this week, Sam Underhill was substituted at half time for Bath club captain Matt Garvey who was back from injury and looking to add that spark into the forwards. The Welsh fly halves then traded penalties and took the score to 11-8, before an amazing flick under heavy pressure from prop John Afoa, allowed Heinz to go under the posts for his second try of the match and give Gloucester a well deserved lead again at 11-15 following a successful conversion.
Handling errors or moments where it would have been better to hold onto the ball were costing Bath and they needed to be addressed quickly if they wanted to get back into the match. A high tackle on Zach Mercer gave Priestland the chance to close the gap to one point with a kick to the left hand side of the posts and he duly despatched it between the posts as the game went into the last fifteen minutes 14-15.
Then the best moment of the match came for Bath as they kicked into gear and a barnstorming run from the Welsh wizard Toby Faletau, and allowed them to get onto the front foot. He was ably backed up by Matt Garvey who gained a few more metres, then Watson under pressure with Billy Twelvetrees hanging off him, sent a spiralling ball to free-scoring Rokoduguni to back up his first half try by beating three defenders and run in over the whitewash to hand back the lead to Bath in this game that was on a knife edge going into the last few minutes.
A great kick off from Owen Williams gave Gloucester the chance to have a last big push to try and get a famous win against their local rivals, they continued to patiently build closer and closer to the line and forced a couple of penalties which took them deep into Bath’s 22. With the lineout won, Gloucester surged and dogged defence and heroic tackling from the Bath defence looked initially as if they had held up Ed Slater just short of the line, before the television match official confirmed the try much to the agony of the Bath fans ears, and Owen Williams had the opportunity to kick over the conversion to win the game for cherry and whites which he did emphatically to give them a well deserved win.
It wasn’t the best performance from Bath but they came up against a team who deservedly got the spoil of the points in the end, Bath can look forward to resting a couple of their first team players and bringing some back from injury as the Anglo Welsh competition comes into focus over the next few weeks.