George Ford kicked all the points as Bath Rugby hung on for a nail-biting 15-13 victory over West Country rivals Gloucester Rugby at the Rec.
Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns scored the only try of the match but Ford, who ended a mixed evening from the tee, landed five penalties to seal the win.
Bath were in command in the first half and Ford did have a kick to extend the hosts’ lead to 15-3 midway through the second half but he was wayward and was soon after charged down by Burns, who raced clear to dot down.
Ford and Burns exchanged further penalties and that was how it stayed as Bath secured the local bragging rights and moved into second place.
In torrid conditions, Bath dominated the opening exchanges, penning Gloucester back in their own 22 for lengthy spells.
Fly-half Ford was dictating matters, cleverly kicking over the top to turn Gloucester around, ensuring Bath were camped in their opponents’ half for the majority of the first half.
And it was the former Leicester Tigers No.10 who opened the scoring on five minutes – Ford was tackled late by Matt Kvesic and he picked himself up to slot the penalty.
Gloucester could not break out of their own half to alleviate the pressure and on 27 minutes they were 6-0 to the good – again Ford taking advantage of Bath’s dominance to bisect the posts from the tee.
Bath kept coming and to Gloucester’s credit, they could not find a way to the try-line but further indiscipline from the Cherry & Whites saw Burns notch penalty number three just after the half hour mark.
It wasn’t until the 33rd minute that Bath conceded their first penalty of the match but Burns made no mistake, nailing a tricky-looking effort to keep his side in the contest at 9-3 down at the half-time interval, after Ford missed from the tee just before the break.
Five minutes into the second half however, Ford extended Bath’s lead back to nine and the hosts began to crack up the pressure in the right-hand corner.
This time Ford shunned the shot at goal to kick for the corner and after a series of scrums that resulted from the lineout ended with Gloucester prop Rupert Harden sent to the sin bin.
Ford missed his kick however and the evening got worse for him soon after. Having seen his penalty hit the post, Burns made amends to score the first try of the night, capitalising on an error from his opposite number.
Burns charged down Ford’s attempted clearance kick and the ball sat up nicely for the Gloucester fly-half, who splashed down over the line before adding the extras on 61 minutes.
Ford recovered to add his fifth penalty of the night to give Bath a 15-10 lead but on 66 minutes, Bath were down to 14 when Anthony Watson received a yellow card for deliberately knocking on, with Mike Tindall attempting to put James Simpson-Daniel clear in the corner.
Burns nailed a superb penalty from the touchline to trim the gap to two again but Bath defended resolutely as their visitors pushed for the win.
Ford was handed the chance to put the game to bed with three minutes left on the clock but he slid his penalty wide – although it proved to matter little as Bath clung on for the win.