Cherry and White pack produces dominant derby display
A dominant forward display saw Gloucester recover from a slow start to claim local bragging rights with victory over west country rivals Bath in a bruising encounter at Kingsholm.
Two Sam Vesty penalties had given Bath a 6-0 lead as their ability to retain possession through multiple phases stretched a Gloucester side guilty of turning the ball over on a regular basis during a torrid opening half-hour.
But the Cherry and Whites had established a supremacy at scrum time and their potent threat from driving line-outs was exemplified when Darren Dawidiuk claimed the opening try, with five points from fly-half Tim Taylor giving them a 10-6 interval advantage.
Taylor added two further penalties before Charlie Sharples crossed late on to seal the win and leave Bath without a victory at the home of their neighbours since 2006.
The visitors elected to keep ball in hand in the early going but were met with some stern Gloucester defence, with prop Nick Wood and flanker Matt Cox making strong contributions. Wood was also enjoying a good start at scrum time, popping Bath tighthead Duncan Bell up at two of the first three engagements.
But referee Martin Fox's failure to penalise Bell almost led to a score for the visitors as they worked the ball left for Nick Abendanon to cut through some weak defence from Sharples, but Bath were unable to make the most of the chance as Tom Biggs ignored an overlap when the ball was recycled.
They got reward for their dominance of the opening quarter as Vesty slotted a 23rd-minute penalty after purposeful carrying from Ryan Caldwell and Nathan Catt had again put them deep in Gloucester territory. And the fly-half doubled the lead as he found the target, with the aid of the crossbar, after Gloucester had been guilty of pulling down in the line-out.
Basic errors continued to stymie the home side's efforts, but Bryan Redpath's side were enjoying the better of the tight exchanges and a series of powerful, controlled driving mauls firstly yielded a Taylor penalty, before hooker Dawidiuk emerged at the bottom of a pile of bodies for the game's opening try, converted by Taylor for an unlikely 10-6 half-time lead.
The swift change of momentum continued into the second half as Taylor landed his second penalty within two minutes of the restart, although he was off target with his next attempt from inside his own half. Bath were rattled and another scrum penalty and sloppy line-out work allowed Gloucester back into their 22, with Dan Hipkiss bravely denying Lesley Vainikolo a potential score.
It was now Bath who were having to soak up wave after wave of attack, and another infringement allowed Taylor to move the Cherry and Whites more than a score clear as the contest entered the final quarter.
Vesty had a chance to narrow the gap after an increasingly rare foray into Gloucester territory, but made a hash of his penalty attempt, which he spooned to the right of the uprights, with replacement Tom Heathcote repeating the feat as Bath hopes faded.
Vainikolo was sin-binned in the dying moments for a high shot on Heathcote, who was again wide of the mark with the resulting penalty. And the youngster's difficult day ended with another error as his knock-on saw Sharples attack from his own line.
The wing kicked ahead and beat the idling Mark McMillan to the ball to gather and touch down, Freddie Burns added the simple conversion to round off the win.