Premiership: Gloucester 29-15 Bath – Superb second-half showing sees Gloucester beat Bath

Freddie Clarke’s try early in the second period swung the balance of power in Gloucester’s favour
Gallagher Premiership
Gloucester (7) 29
Tries: Woodward, Clarke, Grobler, Ackermann Cons: Cipriani, Twelvetrees (2) Pens: Twelvetrees
Bath (9) 15
Pens: Priestland (5)

An impressive second-half showing saw Gloucester beat Bath 29-15 to move up to third in the Premiership.

Jason Woodward went over for Gloucester from close range early on before Rhys Priestland hit three penalties to put a dominant Bath up at the break.

Freddie Clarke scored from a metre out for Gloucester’s second try five minutes after the restart before Priestland kicked two penalties.

But tries by Gerbrandt Grobler and Ruan Ackermann secured the bonus point.

Billy Twelvetrees’ late penalty meant it was the Cherry and Whites’ biggest win over Bath for nine years; Stuart Hooper’s men remain in sixth place, six points off Gloucester.

The Cherry and Whites were dealt a blow before the game started as teenage winger Louis Rees-Zammit, who scored a hat-trick for Gloucester in their loss at Northampton last week, failed a late fitness test and was unable to take his place among the replacements.

Clear-cut chances to score were few and far between in a first period that Bath dominated in terms of territory and possession.

Woodward went in following a break from Franco Mostert after Bath had turned over possession, while arguably Bath’s best chance of a try came after 17 minutes – Taulupe Faletau broke and exchanged passes with Anthony Watson five metres out, but the England winger should have sent the ball to Francois Louw outside him and Gloucester recovered and won the ball back.

Like in the first period, Gloucester came out of the traps well in the second. A period of pressure in the Bath danger zone ended with Clarke going over, but Danny Cipriani missed the conversion from almost under the posts – his second easy place-kick miss of the day, having missed a very kickable first-half penalty.

Two more Priestland penalties put Bath three points ahead before Gloucester awoke. Replacement Grobler dotted down with his first touch after Jake Polledri’s powerful run through the Bath line was held up superbly on the line by Tom Dunn.

Ackermann then went over from a metre out five minutes later after Ollie Thorley’s quick run was held up short. Both scores were converted by Twelvetrees, who took over kicking duties from the misfiring Cipriani.

Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann:

“To me, if supporters come out and support you and it is a sold-out stadium, we must show at least that we are a better team than what we showed in the first half.

“That was not the way we trained or how the players conduct themselves during the week and how we prepare. It looked to me that all the basic principles went out of the window.

“We didn’t play like we trained, and I challenged them to take the responsibility and play like a team that can play. We owed it to the supporters.

“The players took on the challenge and that’s the character of the group. The key was that in the second half we looked after the ball better, got through some phases and got the balance right between being quite direct and an expansive game.”

Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper:

“I think overall we are frustrated and disappointed with it. Parts of the first half were good, but Gloucester are a fantastic defensive team and we knew it was going to be difficult to score tries against them.

“We had to keep those penalties going and keep pressure on them, which we did in the first half.

“I thought in the second half, physically we lost out. We started to lose collisions and that puts you on the back foot.

“In the second half, we probably gave up a bit too much possession in the middle of the field. We fed the way they wanted to play in the second half.”

Gloucester: Woodward; Marshall, Harris, Twelvetrees, Thorley; Cipriani, Heinz (capt); Hohneck, Marais, Balmain, Craig, Mostert, Clarke, Polledri, Ackermann.

Replacements: Gleave, Seville, Knight, Grobler, Ludlow, Simpson, Williams, Banahan.

Bath: Homer; Rokoduguni, Joseph, Roberts, Watson; Priestland, Cook; Obano, Dunn, Stuart, McNally, Stooke, Louw (capt), Underhill, Faletau.

Replacements: Walker, Boyce, Judge, Williams, Ellis, Fox, Burns, Brew.

Referee: Tom Foley.

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