Gloucester edge derby battle
By Ben Blackmore. Last Updated: 01/09/06 10:27am
Guinness Premiership, Kingsholm, Saturday September 2, 15.00
Gloucester got their Premiership campaign off to a winning start with a 24-19 victory over Bath at Kingsholm.
Despite suffering the late loss of Mike Tindall to a calf injury before kick-off, coach Dean Ryan's men battled hard for victory, scoring tries through Jack Adams and Olly Morgan.
The Cherry-and-Whites featured four debutants in their starting line-up, including Iain Balshaw who had previously experienced the West Country derby atmosphere in the blue of Bath.
Unfortunately, injuries once again blighted the England man's afternoon, and Balshaw headed off after 40 minutes with an ankle blow.
It was the rather less high-profile inclusion of Willie Walker who made the key impact, the stand-off kicking 14 points to guide his team to victory.
Two Danny Grewcock tries could not rescue the match for Bath, who were playing their first competitive match under the guidance of new head coach Steve Meehan.
A late Olly Barkley penalty grabbed Meehan a losing bonus point, which was no more than they deserved after a hard-fought opening performance.
Two sin-bins in quick succession cost the former European champions dear close to the interval, with Michael Stephenson following captain Steve Borthwick into the bin.
Penalties dominated the first forty minutes as Gloucester took a 12-6 lead into the break, but the first try arrived immediately when the teams returned.
Adams was the man to go over, but he owed an awful lot to the endeavour of flanker Andy Hazell.
Grewcock then reduced the arrears from close range, but Bath were then undone by the kind of quality that could make Gloucester a real force this season.
The Cherry-and-Whites had the visiting defence chasing shadows as they moved the ball swiftly from one flank to the other, with Morgan going over to clinch the match.
Grewcock made a 20-yard dash late on to give Bath a flicker of hope, but it was Gloucester who triumphed in the rain.