Matt Garvey’s late double capped a ruthless Bath Rugby display as they secured their biggest ever league triumph over West Country rivals Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm.
England fly-half George Ford was in sublime form off the tee, scoring 24 points to put the hosts to the sword and guarantee his side’s fourth consecutive Aviva Premiership Rugby victory.
A tense first half saw both sides struggle to exert any dominance as Greig Laidlaw and Ford traded penalties, with Bath leading 15-9 at the break.
Ford extended his side’s advantage after the interval, before Gloucester’s scrum woes saw Sila Puafisi sin binned and the visitors awarded a penalty try from a subsequent rolling maul.
Replacement Ollie Devoto then feinted through the Cherry & Whites defence to set up Garvey’s first effort before Dan Robson cut the deficit with a well-taken score.
But Bath had the final word as relentless pressure on the Gloucester line finally told, with Garvey barrelling over to stun the home crowd.
The hosts took the lead two minutes in as Bath went off their feet at the ruck, giving Laidlaw a simple penalty attempt in front of the posts that he duly landed.
A nervous visiting defence then conceded a scrum five but cleared and soon levelled the score at 3-3 as Ford bisected the posts after the hosts held on.
Laidlaw then spurned a chance to restore his side’s lead from the tee as his long-range effort fell short but made no mistake moments later after Bath infringed at the scrum to make it 6-3.
Neither side were able to gain the upper hand for long though and Ford levelled once more with a sublime kick from distance on 18 minutes.
And the England fly-half looked in imperious form off the tee as he stroked over another penalty from just inside the Gloucester half to give Bath the lead.
The home side’s set-piece problems continued as they collapsed a scrum in an almost identical spot to allow Ford to make it four from four and extend Bath’s advantage.
Cherry & Whites captain Billy Twelvetrees then took over the kicking duties for a penalty near the half-way line but his attempt dropped short of the posts.
Laidlaw made amends to cut the deficit to three points just before the interval as Gloucester withstood another Bath shove in the scrum to win a penalty.
But Bath surged forwards through Matt Banahan before winning a lineout on Gloucester’s throw and spread the ball wide but the hosts rallied to concede only a penalty on the floor that Ford converted to make it 15-9 at the break.
The hosts looked to create an opening through wingers Jonny May and Charlie Sharples after the break but Bath again looked threatening as Twelvetress had to scramble to prevent Jonathan Joseph breaking clear.
Gloucester thought they had secured the turnover but were penalised at the breakdown but Ford pushed his kick wide to lose his flawless record.
Mike Ford’s impressive pack won another penalty at the scrum in the 49th minute and Ford junior made no mistake in front of the posts to make it 18-9.
The scrum continued to be a fraught experience for Gloucester and referee Greg Garner duly sent replacement prop Puafisi to the bin on 56 minutes.
Ford opted to kick for the corner and his intent was rewarded when Bath’s driving maul forced the David Humphreys’ men to concede a penalty try, with Ford adding the simple conversion to make it 25-9.
Bath once again repelled waves of Gloucester attacks to respond in kind as a scything break from Devoto set the platform for fellow replacement Garvey to crash over with Ford converting after the TMO confirmed the score.
As the game started to open up, Bath let their defensive effort slip for the first time to allow scrum-half Robson to sneak up the left wing and touch down, with James Hook landing an impressive touchline conversion to make it 32-16.
Bath swarmed the Gloucester line in search of a third score and despite scrappy approach play, flanker Garvey scooped up the loose ball to dive under the posts, with Ford adding the extras to end the contest.