Gloucester Rugby recorded a first win at the Rec since 2012 on Friday night and man-of-the-match Willi Heinz admits that weathering an early Bath Rugby storm proved decisive.
Bath completely dominated up front for the first half, and the opening 20 minutes especially, but scored just one try – through Dom Day – to lead 8-3 at the break.
And with the wind at their backs in the second half, Gloucester took advantage as James Hook kicked four further penalties to extend the hosts’ losing streak to six games with a 15-11 triumph.
Bath had won the last five West Country derbies but dogged defence helped the Cherry and Whites move into Aviva Premiership Rugby’s top six, leaving Heinz ecstatic at getting one over on their fierce rivals.
“It’s a massive win for us – the boys had talked about what it means to come down and play Bath, it’s our derby game and our biggest game of the year,” explained the scrum-half.
“To come down here and play in front of a full house at the Rec doesn’t get any better than that.
“It wasn’t easy in that first 20 and I thought we absorbed the pressure really well. For them to only come away with eight points when they were on our line for so long probably galvanised us.
“We got our way back in the game slowly but surely and in the second half we had the run of things.
“There was no secret at the break, just play down the right end of the field and we had a nice breeze going to that right-hand corner.
“We just wanted to keep putting them down there and make them deal with it. Hooky had a pretty good day with the boot.”
Bath were trying to win six consecutive West Country derbies for the first time in the fixture’s storied history but instead are still looking for a first win of 2016.
Head coach Mike Ford is refusing to hit the panic button just yet but acknowledges his troops must improve, and quickly, to find success in the coming weeks.
“It was tough. We weren’t good enough especially in the second half when we didn’t have a kicking game,” said Ford.
“When we kicked the ball it wasn’t good enough and certainly in the last 15 minutes we should have held the ball more.
“They got in from because of our ill-discipline, one particular penalty from a maul wasn’t very bright from us and got them to 15. We were just disappointing all around.
“What we’ve got to do is stick together – I trust these players 100 per cent. We’ve had a few missing today and we really struggled in the backs in terms of our shape, when to kick and when to run.
“I thought the forwards did quite well, especially in the first half, so we don’t need to panic but we need to stick together.”
Bath Rugby: Homer, Rokoduguni, Banahan, Eastmond (Clark 27), Agulla, Bowden, Cook (Matawalu 74), Lahiff (Catt 57), Webber (Dunn 65), Wilson (Thomas 45), Hooper (Ewels 62), Day (Ellis 65), Garvey (Faosiliva 45), Louw, Houston
Gloucester Rugby: Burns, Sharples, Meakes, Twelvetrees, McColl, Hook, Heinz, McAllister (Wood 55), Hibbard (Dawidiuk 67), Afoa (Thomas 65), Savage (Moriarty 74), Galarza, Kalamafoni, Rowan (Kvesic 52), Morgan
Penalties: Homer 2
Penalties: Hook 5
Referee: Matthew Carley