Bath Rugby hope victory over Gloucester will revive play-off challenge
Head coach Gary Gold believes Friday night’s thrilling 31-25 West Country derby victory over Gloucester has kept alive Bath Rugby’s chances of sneaking into the Aviva Premiership play-offs.
A near-faultless kicking display from Tom Heathcote, who finished with 16 points, coupled with a penalty try and scores from Kyle Eastmond and Tom Biggs were enough to see off the spirited Cherry and Whites.
Despite playing the final 30 minutes with 14 men after a red card for hooker Darren Dawidiuk, the visitors were always in the game after two tries from Jonny May and a score from Henry Trinder. Gold said: “I don’t think we’re back in the title race after just one performance but I do think we’ve now given ourselves a chance.
“I think we’ll keep our feet on the ground – we’re not back in the title race just yet.
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“Slowly but surely I think we’re getting to where we want to be. I think we’re making better decisions now about whether to kick or run but I also still think we’re making awful decisions.
“There were times when we should have got the ball off the park and we didn’t and there were times when we tried to run the ball when we shouldn’t but then again I thought there were times we should have hung on to the ball when we didn’t. We need to keep working on that but I think we’re going in the right direction.
“Tom Heathcote’s been fantastic for us. He’s been putting us under pressure when Stephen Donald’s been playing. Stephen’s got injured and I think he’s taken his opportunity wonderfully well – I think his first missed kick tonight was the first time that had happened in 18 or 19 attempts.”
Bath centre Matt Banahan was delighted at the final whistle and explained the game had taken on extra significance for the home side as Lee Mears, who retired due to a heart condition recently, had led the side out. Banahan said: “It meant a lot to us, especially with Lee Mears leading us out after retiring.
“The forwards built a great platform for us and it’s always nice for us backs when they perform like that. It made a huge difference to have David Wilson back from international duty to help our scrum.
“When we play like that, there’s no better place in the world to play rugby than at Bath on a Friday night.”
Gloucester boss Nigel Davies refused to be drawn on the red card of Dawidiuk and instead singled out his side’s inability to compete at the set-piece.
Davies said: “Our set-piece didn’t function very well at all, I thought our accuracy really let us down and that’s disappointing and because of that we couldn’t take control of the game. We still had our moments though; I thought we harshly had a try disallowed but that’s what happens.
“The important thing though is to look at ourselves and understand what we could have done differently.
“I didn’t think it was a tip tackle but the referee has to make those calls and they didn’t go for us today.
“To go down to 14 men with 30 minutes still to go and to earn that bonus point was very pleasing – most teams wouldn’t do that but we did. The team worked hard for each other and because of that we’ve always got a chance.”