Gloucester score rare away win over Bath
October 1, 2010
Gloucester celebrate a rare success at the home of their West Country rivals Bath
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Gloucester notched a rare away win with a hard-fought 18-3 victory over Bath in their Aviva Premiership clash at The Rec.
Tries from winger Lesley Vainikolo and fly-half Nicky Robinson put Gloucester on course for only their second victory on the road in the last year with the Cherry and Whites' No.10 also weighing in with two penalties and a conversion. But it was a superb defensive effort and work-rate - led by man of the match Mike Tindall - that underpinned only their second league victory at The Rec in the last 23 years that also lifted them to fourth place in the table.
Bath's only points came courtesy of an Olly Barkley penalty with the hosts guilty of a litany of errors and a costly lack of discipline that prevented them from claiming the Premiership top spot.
Honours were even in a lively opening with both sides showing a willingness to give the ball some air but Bath's indiscipline resulted in an early Gloucester penalty. Robinson's long range effort fell short of the target but the visitors continued to press and were rewarded with the first try of the game.
A high ball from Robinson was claimed well by Bath fullback Nick Abendanon inside his 22 but some excellent scavenging from Gloucester forced the turnover and some good hands from centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu and then Robinson put Vainikolo into space and the winger had the pace and power to go over in the corner. Robinson could not add the extras from out wide but Bath's worrying penalty count soon handed him a chance to atone - but he could only pull his latest effort wide of the posts.
Bath opted for a more direct approach in response lacked the required cutting edge when the otherwise resolute Gloucester defence creaked. After weathering what little Bath could muster, Gloucester rallied well with wing James Simpson-Daniel sparking a break that took them into the shadow of their rivals' posts where yet another penalty gifted Robinson an easy three points that cemented his side's lead.
Gloucester were not immune to the referee Wayne Barnes' whistle and an infringement at the ruck by prop Paul Doran-Jones allowed Barkley to put his side on the board with an excellent kick from the touchline.
But Gloucester's riposte was swift. A direct run from centre Mike Tindall opened up the Bath defence before a chip ahead from Robinson turned the screw. Fuimaono-Sapolu then showed great skill to slide and collect the ball before popping the ball to Vainikolo who in turn fed Robinson for a score in the corner. The Gloucester No.10 was wayward with the conversion as was Barkley with his next penalty attempt a few minutes later.
Errors continued to plague Bath's best efforts but Robinson's off day with the boot was the home side's saviour with two minutes of the half remaining but he made no mistake a minute before the break.
Robinson made way for rising star Freddie Burns at the break but he had little time to make an impact before his side were reduced to 14-men with lock Jim Hamilton seeing yellow for deliberately killing the ball at a ruck. Barkley took the opportunity to take the game into the Gloucester 22 but they were again thwarted by some fantastic defensive work from the visitors who threatened themselves despite their numerical handicap.
Gloucester survived Hamilton's absence with their lead intact and Burns almost extended his side's advantage with a drop goal just moments after the introduction of replacement second row Dave Attwood took them back to the full compliment.
Injuries had already stripped Bath of influential duo Luke Watson and Lewis Moody before Gloucester suffered an equally pivotal blow in the departure of Fuimaono-Sapolu. Chasing the game, Barkley opted to kick to the corner for a lineout at the game reached the hour mark and although their lineout conjured a rare set-piece victory the Gloucester defence once again snuffed out the danger.
But Bath rallied and drew the next penalty and wasted no time in going for the corner once again. The catch and drive then had the home crowd on their feet only for Gloucester's own penalty count to intervene. But the Bath scrum wobbled again under immense pressure with tempers flaring as Gloucester celebrated their latest minor victory.
Bath looked to raise their game as the match entered the final ten minutes but time and time again they found the door slammed in their face by an outstanding and indefatigable Gloucester defensive effort. Burns looked to put the final nail in the Bath coffin with a penalty late in the game and although he missed it could not take the shine off an impressive away win.
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