Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Semesa Rokoduguni's try double helps Bath to derby victory over Gloucester

Bath's England heroes returned to lift the spirits but it was Semesa Rokoduguni's two second-half tries that earned the visitors a rare derby victory over Gloucester in front of a full house at Kingsholm.

The scores were level when the Fijian-born winger decided the game with a typically opportunistic effort five minutes from the final whistle, sealing a 17-12 triumph for Bath.

Gloucester had taken the spoils at Bath last month but could only muster four penalties by skipper Greig Laidlaw on Saturday against Bath's three tries, the first of which came from scrum-half Chris Cook.

With a game in hand - they play Sale at home on Wednesday April 13 - victory gives Bath an outside chance of a top-six finish.

Scotland scrum-half Laidlaw returned to captain Gloucester after Six Nations duty, one of seven changes from the side that lost at London Irish last Sunday.

Apart from welcoming back Grand Slam-winning stars Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph and George Ford and giving Nathan Catt a first start of the season at loosehead, Bath were forced into a late change in the back row, Guy Mercer coming in for Leroy Houston.

It took just three minutes for Laidlaw to put his side ahead, kicking a penalty after Charlie Ewels handled the ball in an offside position.

Watson, playing full-back rather than on the wing where he scored all his tries for England, fumbled a kick-through by Billy Twelvetrees and then kicked out on the full. Then, when fly-half Ford then fell the wrong side of a ruck, Laidlaw made it 6-0.

Watson did begin to show his international class with a dangerous break-out foiled by New Zealander Tom Marshall.

Keeping up that momentum, Bath's tighthead prop Henry Thomas evaded one attempted tackle, stepped through another and drew Marshall to send scrum-half Cook to the posts. Ford converted the try to put the visitors 7-6 ahead after 15 minutes.

The lead was short-lived, though, as Bath failed to deal with the restart and Laidlaw kicked his third penalty from yet another breakdown infringement.

Ford was having his own problem, twice kicking direct to touch. Gloucester were far from faultless themselves and lacked creativity but showed more energy and purpose, especially in the forward battle.

It was nearly half an hour before Bath forced a line-out in the home half but Gloucester pilfered the ball.

Ford looked more assured with ball in hand, sparking a thrilling counter with England centre Joseph but, again, there was not enough support at the breakdown.

A Rokoduguni dash and chip ahead from his own half had Gloucester scrambling to defend under their own posts and Ford brought the half to an end with a difficult penalty kick which drifted wide.

The second half was only four minutes old when Rokoduguni crossed for an unconverted try in the corner.

Ford's floated pass had finally unlocked the Gloucester defence after a multi-phase attack in which Bath's forwards finally found some forward momentum.

Back came Gloucester, forcing a succession of penalties, line-outs and scrums but without getting over the line.

They had to be content with a fourth Laidlaw penalty on 55 minutes to bring the sides level.

The hosts enjoyed more territory but their attacking ideas were limited and posed little threat, only inviting yet another turnover from the outstanding Francois Louw.

Gloucester's scrum also came under pressure, conceding penalties. Ford had a shot at goal from wide out but it was too ambitious against the wind.

Bath kept up the pressure and Ollie Devoto latched on to a grubber kick by Joseph. Play swept to the other corner and Gloucester held out at the cost of a penalty, although the home side again disrupted the line-out and the scrum that followed.

But, as the ball squirted out, Rokoduguni barged through the traffic and just made the touchdown. Ford's conversion was wide but Bath were back in the lead with just a couple of minutes remaining and they held on for the win.

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph