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Bath seal top spot in emphatic style

08 May 2004
Bath seal top spot in emphatic style

The Rec looked on in wonder as their side nailed a bye to the Zurich Premiership Final at Twickenham in exhilarating style.

Tries for flanker Andy Beattie, replacement hooker Lee Mears, wing Wylie Human and substitute wing Alex Crockett added to Gloucester's woes, but it was the 21 points from fly-half Chris Malone that snuffed out any 'Cherry and White' cheer.

Indeed, the visitors never got close to ruining the party at The Rec – and nor did it look like they really wanted to.

Gloucester seemed happy enough to settle for fourth place in the table, and that is exactly what they get – along with a home Wildcard semi-final against Sale Sharks next week.

With Wasps starting the day just a point behind league leaders Bath, the home side started nervously.

Despite Bath's early territorial dominance, it took them close to 15 minutes to open the scoring via the first of Malone's five penalties.

The tension got the better of the players mid-way through the first-half when a punch-up erupted in the vicinity of rival hookers Jonathan Humphreys and Chris Fortey, but the dust soon cleared to allow Malone to find the posts three more times before the break to ensure a 12-0 half-time lead.

Gloucester knew they needed to start making in-roads into Bath's lead, but centre Henry Paul missed an easy penalty early in the second period.

The miss buoyed the home fans, and they erupted a little later when their fullback, Matt Perry, caught Marcel Garvey in the corner with a brilliant tackle.

The double denial effected Gloucester's pose, and Beattie's converted try on the hour-mark knocked the wind completely out of their sails.

Mears got in on the act as Bath began to relax into a Twickenham swagger, and he tip-toed past flat-footed England scrum-half Andy Gomarsall for the home side's second converted try.

Gloucester were again left standing when the industrious Beattie intercepted a poor Paul pass before sending Human in for a score, again converted by the impressive Malone.

Gloucester managed a consolation try from substitute hooker Delarey du Preez, but Bath were determined to have the final word, and Crockett soon scampering over for the bonus point.

The scorers:

For Bath:Tries: Beattie, Mears, Human, CrockettCons: Malone 3Pens: Malone 5

For Gloucester:Try: Du PreezCon: Paul

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