Match summary – Bath Rugby 15-29 Gloucester
A youthful Bath Rugby side put in a spirited display in their Premiership Rugby Cup meeting with Gloucester, but the visitors’ experience told in the second half.
Tom Doughty’s converted try and a George Worboys penalty had the Blue, Black and White 10-7 ahead at half-time.
Jack Reeves’ double added to Jake Polledri’s opener to put Gloucester in front and Kyle Moyle edged the game out of sight.
Bath remained in the hunt for points until late on and hooker John Stewart’s score proved a consolation just past the hour.
Tom Ellis returned to captain the side along with Ruaridh McConnochie, both having missed eight months of action.
Alongside their experience, Assistant Coach Luke Charteris gave his younger players their first run out of the season with Sam Harris and Louie Hennessey earning their senior debuts.
Second row pairing of Michael Etete and JJ Tonks were also appearing for Bath for the first time.
Gloucester welcomed some experience back as Jonny May, Polledri and Lewis Ludlow were named by George Skivington.
Bath Rugby: 15 Sam Harris, 14 Ruaridh McConnochie, 13 Louie Hennessey, 12 Will Butt, 11 Gabe Goss, 10 George Worboys, 9 Max Green; 1 Arthur Cordwell, 2 Tom Doughty, 3 Johannes Jonker, 4 Michael Etete, 5 JJ Tonks, 6 Tom Ellis ©, 7 Ethan Staddon, 8 Nahum Merigan
Impact players: 16 John Stewart, 17 Archie Stanley, 18 Kieran Verden, 19 Mackenzie Graham, 20 Thompson Cowan, 21 Tom Carr-Smith, 22 Max Wright, 23 Darren Atkins
Gloucester: 15 Kyle Moyle, 14 Tom Seabrook, 13 Jack Reeves, 12 Giorgi Kveseladze, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Barton, 9 Stephen Varney; 1 Ciaran Knight, 2 Henry Walker, 3 Bryan O’Connor, 4 Arthur Clark, 5 Cameron Jordan, 6 Jack Clement, 7 Lewis Ludlow (c), 8 Jake Polledri
Replacements: 16 Seb Blake, 17 Fed Ma’a, 18 James Pollard, 19 Freddie Thomas, 20 Jack Bartlett, 21 Matty Jones, 22 Isaac Marsh, 23 Jake Morris
The first 10 minutes were evenly matched on physicality, with the ball going through both Bath and Gloucester hands in attack.
Debutant Harris got an early touch on the ball on the receiving end of a nicely placed crossfield kick and demonstrated Bath’s attacking intent.
With solid hits coming from Arthur Cordwell and Etete, and strong carrying from Will Butt, the hosts looked in a good place. However, Gloucester had their moments too.
Italy international Polledri received the ball off the back of a line-out to charge over the line, giving his side the first points of the game.
Answering back, Bath cashed in on a penalty and Worboys got his side’s first points on the board.
Showing their intent once again, a break from Gabe Goss put Bath on the front foot as he made 15 metres down the wing. Spotting the space, youngster Harris put boot to ball to bounce it into touch deep inside the Gloucester 22 as Bath began to put the pressure on.
It paid off as after a succession of penalties, Doughty bided his time at the back of a driving maul to burrow over and Worboys’ extras made it 10-7.
Edging closer to the close of the half, Bath needed to be resilient to thwart Gloucester of any points and they did just that, preventing such with a superb turnover.
Gloucester came out strong in the second period as Reeves capitalised on some open field to sprint over and George Barton kept the scoreline ticking over with another conversion.
The Cherry & Whites continued in the ascendancy with Reeves grabbing his second just before the hour with a bulldozing close-range finish which saw JJ Tonks sinbinned in the process.
A third second-half try came just shy of the hour mark as full-back Moyle slipped through a gap on the outside for Gloucester’s fourth.
Not to be downbeat, Bath bit back quickly and replacement hooker Stewart delivered accurate arrows before steering a maul over for a try.
Barton ticked Gloucester’s tally to 29 to make Bath need two scores to claw their way back in and despite many entries into the 22, they couldn’t quite get past a stubborn away defence.
With many patterns beginning to emerge of what Johann van Graan is trying to instil, there are plenty of positives, as well as work ons, to take from the performance.
Pol Roger Performance of the Match