GLOUCESTER 5 BATH 32
EMBARRASSING Gloucester produced their worst performance of the season – and maybe their worst ever in a West Country derby – slumping to their first defeat to Bath in six games.
The Cherry and Whites lost to Bath at Kingsholm for the first time since 2006, thanks to a lacklustre, messy and indisciplined performance.
This was Gloucester’s heaviest home defeat to their fiercest rivals in the professional era, eclipsing the 36-16 loss in April 2000 and even the 45-29 hammering in 1996.
More than 13,000 passionate supporters packed Kingsholm – choosing Gloucester and this LV=Cup derby clash instead of the Six Nations.
Scores of them flooded out disconsolate, long before the final whistle – scenes seldom seen among the knowledgeable and loyal Cherry and Whites faithful.
They deserved better.
Bath scored five tries, through Olly Woodburn, Nick Abendanon, Mat Gilbert, Semesa Rokoduguni and Stephen Donald.
That tells the story in itself.
The tale of Gloucester’s ineptitude is another matter entirely.
Gloucester’s forwards coach Carl Hogg admitted the Cherry and Whites were simply not good enough – in any area.
Hogg explained: “We gave away far too many penalties, we made far too many errors.
“We didn’t adapt to the referee or his interpretation, and paid the price.”
Gloucester lumbered to half-time with a foothold at 5-5, shrugging off sin-bins for Andy Hazell and Tom Savage.
But the second-half was nothing short of a horror show.
Gloucester return to league action at Northampton on Saturday, the start of a pivotal month.
Hogg admits his side’s top-four ambitions rest on the ability to hit back, and fast.
He continued: “We put ourselves under pressure because we couldn’t control field position because of indiscipline.
“We’ve got magnificent support, there was a huge amount of pride at stake today.
“We think a lot of our support, and we need to hit back now.
“We’ve got to use this as motivation now – get back to work and start making amends.”
Huia Edmonds capped a lineout drive for Gloucester’s only points.
That came after those yellow cards, first for Hazell’s tip tackle on Rob Webber – the openside was probably lucky in this ultra-cautious era not to be sent off, though there was no malice in the challenge.
Savage took out a man at the lineout for his censure, and in truth both were as soft as they were costly.
Woodburn opened the scoring after Sam Vesty’s tap-pass sent the young wing into the corner.
Gloucester just kept gifting Bath the ball, inviting pressure onto themselves and struggling for influence as a result.
Edmonds’ score aside, that pattern repeated until the break.
And at the turnaround Gloucester would have considered themselves well-placed.
But the home never kicked on: rather they crumbled.
Horacio Agulla joined the line off his wing to provide the telling pass for Nick Abendanon’s try.
And Mat Gilbert – who plays with adapted hearing aids in his scrum cap to combat his deafness – drove home for try number three.
Army man Rokoduguni knifed through Gloucester’s buttery backline for the fourth score.
And then the injurious insult came when treacle-runner Donald cakewalked in from the edge of the 22.
Nigel Davies has big problems now – and must sort them in the space of a week before the pivotal Premiership trip to Northampton.
Gloucester’s season is on the line.
GLOUCESTER: R Cook, C Sharples, M Tindall (capt) (M Thomas, 68), T Molenaar (B Burns, 56), S Monahan, R Mills, J Cowan (D Robson, 61), D Murphy (Y Thomas, 61), H Edmonds (D Dawidiuk, 41), R Harden (T Heard, 70), T Savage, L Lokotui, P Buxton (A Qera, 56), A Hazell, S Kalamafoni (G Evans, 68).
BATH: N Abendanon, H Agulla (S Rokoduguni, 57), M Banahan (J Cuthbert, 69), S Vesty, O Woodburn, S Donald, P Stringer (C Cook, 69), C Beech (N Catt, 57), R Webber (T Dunn, 74), A Perenise (K Palma-Newport, 67), D Attwood, D Day (W Spencer, 68), F Louw (capt), C Fearns, B Skirving (M Gilbert, 39).
GLOUCESTER: Tries: Edmonds (35).
BATH: Tries: Woodburn (12), Abendanon (50), Gilbert (66), Rokoduguni (70), Donald (76). Cons: Vesty 2 (70, 76) Pens: Vesty (61).
GLOUCESTER: Hazell (11), Savage (22).
ATTENDANCE: 13, 243.