Gloucester stuck in mud Bath
Guinness Premiership leaders crash at the Recreation Ground
By Graeme Mair. Last Updated: 04/01/08 10:39pm
Bath's try scorer Maddock
Bath beat Guinness Premiership leaders Gloucester 10-5 in difficult conditions at the Recreation Ground to close the gap to two points at the top of the table.
The scoreline did not reflect the hosts' mastery of the wet, heavy pitch. They were dominant while building a 10-0 lead through an Olly Barkley penalty and Joe Maddock's 50th-minute try.
Substitute Chris Paterson gave the Cherry-and-Whites hope with a long-range score in the 61st minute. But Bath held firm during the closing stages to inflict just a second league defeat of the season on Gloucester.
Kick off was delayed by 15 minutes as the groundstaff worked to soak up standing water from the the playing surface.
Referee Wayne Barnes eventually gave the go-ahead for the match to take place in front of a sellout 10,000 crowd.
Circumstances dictated a forward-dominated contest and both packs ran into each other with relish in the early stages as the backlines stood on and admired the spectacle.
Try-scoring opportunities were at a minimum during the first 20 minutes, instead kicking for field position was the order of the day.
Bath centre Barkley was well short with a penalty attempt from just inside the Gloucester half after Marco Bortolami had been penalised for hauling down a lineout in the eighth minute.
The hosts began to grow in confidence as the opening half progressed and became increasingly keen to throw the ball wide and stretch the play.
Their adventure was rewarded when they opened the scoring in the 31st minute - Barkley's penalty going over via the post after Gloucester lock Bortolami had been caught off-side.
Bath's supremacy continued after the break and, after camping in the Gloucester half for 10 minutes, produced the opening try.
The chance looked to have gone when the ball squirted loose from a ruck, but the situation was rescued by full-back Nick Abendanon, who scooped up the loose ball and spotted Maddock all alone on the right wing.
Abendanon's kick was perfectly weighted, allowing Maddock to run onto it and touch down before opposite number James Bailey could scramble across.
Barkley added the conversion for a 10-0 lead, prompting Gloucester head coach Dean Ryan to make a raft of subsitutions.
The introduction of Paterson proved the most influential - the Scotland international replaced Ryan Lamb at fly-half and made an immediate impact with a searing break that took him from just inside his own half to the try-line in the 61st minute.
There was little deception about the move, Paterson taking the ball at first receiver, easing his way into a gap with a curving run, and then outsprinting Bath's cover defence in a race to the line. Paterson's conversion attempt came back off the upright to ensure his side remained 10-5 behind.
Bath re-grouped and kept hold of the ball for the majority of the final 15 minutes to ensure they held on for a deserved win.