Chris Harris and Gloucester beat unruly Bath in record-breaking victory | Premiership
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Of all the humiliations Bath has suffered this season, and there have been a few, this West Country humiliation in England’s longest-running derby was perhaps the most painful.
Playing at home against their fiercest rivals, Stuart Hooper’s side obediently succumbed in the first half en route to a 12th straight loss, signaling more pessimism in Rec.
Bath recently appointed Brent Janse van Rensburg as defense coach for the remainder of the season, but it was clear that the South African’s influence will take time to kick in.
Gloucester was up 26-6 and in full control at the interval, much to the chagrin of Bath fans and presumably their owner Bruce Craig, who will be replaced by Ed Griffiths, the former Saracens general manager, as as president from the start of 2022.
At the end of the first half, George Skivington’s men had the bonus point in the bag while for the notoriously poorly disciplined hosts their forwards Tom Ellis and Lewis Boyce were sent to the sin-bin.
Bath, who this month announced the appointment of Johann Van Graan as head coach on a long-term contract from next season, when he will step down from his current position at the helm of Munster, continues to undermine itself with many shortcomings.
“To concede 40 points against Gloucester at home is absolutely not acceptable,” said Hooper, director of rugby. “In terms of the collision we were poor and we haven’t stopped their roster and if you don’t stop that in the Premiership, especially against these guys who are the best, you’re in trouble. But we have to be better than that. We definitely made it too easy for them.
Bath received a heavy blow when Sam Underhill left with a blow to the head and did not return.
As Gloucester began to probe, Bath was penalized for a ruck violation and referee Matthew Carley sent Ellis to the sin-bin.
The visitors quickly charged their power play as Carley gave them a penalty try and showed Boyce a yellow card. That left Bath at 13 men and, although Bailey imposed another penalty, Harris was on hand to complete a neat move inside the left channel.
Gloucester shifted into high gear and once again used his driving maul with devastating effect. Jack Singleton was the beneficiary this time, emerging from a thicket of bodies to land before Harris claimed his second try in the 39th minute after careful footwork from Louis Rees-Zammit.
Adam Hastings’ conversion gave the visitors a 26-6 interval advantage and, while there was some sort of response from Bath in the second half, it was nowhere near enough.
In the 52nd minute, Ben Spencer cleverly took a quick penalty and rushed under the posts to give Bath a glimmer of hope. But substitute Fraser Balmain claimed Gloucester’s fifth score from another driving maul and the final nail for Bath came late when Hastings’ superb kick found Ollie Thorley in the left corner and he showed some intelligence to send Kyle Moyle.
Ollie Fox claimed last-minute consolation for Bath, but Gloucester moved up to third after scoring his biggest Rec win in the professional age. A delighted Skivington, supported by an outstanding performance from Australian flanker Jordy Reid, said: “We came here last year and lost with the last kick of the game, so we wanted to put things right.
“Obviously this is a West Country derby and the biggest one for the fans and everyone involved in the club. We respect that, but we are working really hard to improve every week. I think we are getting there – slowly .
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