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Bath hang on for crucial derby win

25 Feb 2006
Bath hang on for crucial derby win

The home side were seeking revenge after an 18-16 defeat to Bath at the Recreation Ground last October in a match they should have won comfortably and came out determined to put their west country rivals under the cosh.

However, the closest they came to making it count was an off-target Ludovic Mercier penalty  and that reprieve seemed to lift Bath.

The Cherry and Whites were guilty of giving away the softest of tries when Bath were awarded a penalty inside the home half. Gloucester resisted as the maul worked its way towards their line. However, up popped flanker Andy Beattie, a real thorn in the Gloucester side throughout the match, to race out of the maul and score unopposed from 10 yards, though Andy Dunne’s conversion attempt did not even reach the posts because of the wind.

Mercier brought the score back to 5-3 when he boomed over a 49-metre penalty just after the half-hour but the resistance was not going to last forever.

When Bath built more momentum and found themselves on the Gloucester line, scrum-half Nick Walshe burst right and, just inches from the line, put a delicate pass inside to England hooker Lee Mears to go over comfortably. Chris Malone added the conversion and put over a 20-metre penalty soon after the break to stretch the Bath lead to 15-3.

Gloucester eventually found some fight and put themselves into the hunt when scrum-half Peter Richards found a gap in the opposition defence and raced down the pitch to the 22 before a perfect offload for wing James Bailey, who touched down with Mercier adding the extras.

Gloucester could have gone ahead when Mercier intercepted a wayward pass from Nick Walshe but instead of releasing the significantly quicker James Simpson-Daniel he opted to go it alone and was hauled down a yard short of the line by Andrew Higgins.

Malone tried to seal it for Bath when he landed a long-range drop-goal that meant the Cherry and Whites had to score twice to win.

But, with five minutes left, wing Mark Foster latched onto a pass out wide for a crucial touchdown. Mercier’s conversion from the touchline was wide, though, leaving Gloucester needed another try to win, but their efforts proved in vain as Bath secured their third win over Gloucester in all competitions this season.

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