Gloucester prevail in derby thriller
March 5, 2011
Gloucester prevail in derby thriller%]
Gloucester bagged a ninth straight win and further momentum in their push for the Aviva Premiership play-offs by seeing off west country rivals Bath 34-22 at Kingsholm on Saturday.
The Cherry and Whites completed a league double over Bath in fine style, snaring a vital bonus-point thanks to a brace from Tom Voyce as well as further tries to centre Henry Trinder and England hopeful Paul Doran-Jones.
Bath responded with three tries of their own, to the recalled Matt Banahan, released this weekend from the England squad, Tom Biggs and Ben Williams but came up short at the scrum, with a disappointing outing made all the more painful by centre Olly Barkley suffering a suspected broken leg in the second-half.
Nicky Robinson capitalised on a fired-up opening from the home side with a penalty on five minutes and while Bath responded with their first real attack of the game, a poor pass from Butch James ended a promising move five metres out from the Gloucester line.
Robinson failed to double Gloucester's lead from the tee after the hosts were awarded a contentious scrum penalty but the former Wales international soon found his range to add a touchline conversion to a brilliant try by Trinder. The young centre, recalled to the side in place of Tim Molenaar, pounced on a well-judged kick over the top by Rory Lawson to score, with the scrum-half having acted quickly after a turnover by Andy Hazell.
Five minutes later Bath were on the board and again it was Banahan who picked up the points. The giant winger profited from a brilliant line and step by outside-centre Williams, whose perfectly-timed offload left Hazell and Charlie Sharples stranded.
Barkley converted but Bath were lucky not to concede almost immediately as Gloucester skipper Luke Narraway burst clear off the base of a scrum and sent Jim Hamilton hurtling for the line. The Scotland lock forced an offload and the chance slipped away, with Bath pilfering a lineout to clear the danger.
Gloucester snatched the momentum close to the break with their second try, tight-head Doran-Jones doing his best impersonation of a flying winger to touch down Robinson's grubber ahead of Pieter Dixon. The hosts had been put on the front-foot by a charge from Voyce, with play spread wide before Doran-Jones was able to muscle his way to a rare score.
Bath bit back from the restart with a Barkley penalty as the hosts were pinged for obstruction, leaving five points in it at half-time, and continued to build after the resumption with an excellent try from Biggs. Michael Claassens quickly switched play left and gave his winger the chance to take on loose-head Nick Wood, and there was only one winner as Biggs skipped through the gap and beat the covering Lawson to the corner.
Gloucester fly-half Nicky Robinson is upended © Getty Images
Barkley miss the conversion, his first miss after 17 straight successes, and while Robinson hit the upright with a penalty soon after Bath gave the Gloucester playmaker another chance, which was duly taken for an 18-15 lead on 46 minutes. The game descended into a series of small skirmishes as referee Greg Garner struggled to maintain control but Robinson found time inbetween scraps to add another penalty just before the hour mark and establish a six-point lead.
Gloucester soon improved on that with their third try, scored out wide by Voyce. Narraway again sparked the move with a surge from a scrum and his offload sent Lawson scampering into space. Banahan almost intercepted as the scrum-half looked for Robinson on his inside but as the ball went loose it was worked wide quickly and Voyce made no mistake.
Bath pressed hard but disaster struck when Barkley's leg was caught under a falling body, causing a lengthy delay as the centre was attended to by medical staff. Robinson added a further penalty five minutes from the close but there was time left for further twists as Williams added a try to his earlier assist. The centre broke past some tired Gloucester defenders to score under the posts and while James improved the score Voyce had one more trick up his sleeve. The in-form wing pounced on a swift offload to run in from the 22, just beating a despairing Luke Watson for the fourth try.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September