Freddie Burns worry for England as Bath take local pride against Gloucester

Bath 31 Gloucester 25

Recreation Ground

The derby-night news was good for Bath, grim for Gloucester and more than a little worrying for the England coach Stuart Lancaster ahead of next weekend’s Six Nations meeting with Italy.

Freddie Burns, fast-tracked back into Premiership rugby after a six-week struggle with knee problems, lasted only 50 minutes – a development that threatens his participation against the Azzurri and leaves the national team with selection issues at outside-half.

With Owen Farrell’s thigh injury giving Lancaster cause for concern, Burns only had to emerge unscathed to guarantee himself a seat on the Twickenham bench. Now, the best-laid plans are up in the air. Much will depend on the medical bulletins over the next 48 hours.

Gloucester’s cause was further undermined by the sending-off of their hooker, Darren Dawidiuk, for tip-tackling the heavyweight lock Dave Attwood nine minutes after the break – a feat of strength as much as an illicit act. Yet the visitors finished the stronger and after Jonny May claimed his second try of the night with 15 minutes left, the result could have gone either way.

It was an exhilarating contest from the get-go. Bath, their attacking game transformed by the arrival of the veteran Irish scrum-half Peter Stringer and the pairing of Tom Heathcote and Kyle Eastmond as an inside-back axis, were full of bristling intent from the outset and they were rewarded inside five minutes when Matt Banahan made a clean break in midfield and kicked ahead for the willing chaser Tom Biggs, who was illegally brought to earth by Charlie Sharples in the act of scoring. The verdict? A penalty try for Bath and a yellow card for Sharples.

Eastmond, something of a handful in the No 12 channel, would add a second try some 30 minutes later – and this was a thing of beauty. Heathcote slipped away from Burns on one of his occasional midfield forays and when he found his partner with a sweetly-timed pass, the rugby league refugee dipped his shoulder, readjusted his balance and buried the hapless Sharples en route to the sticks.

But in between those scores, Burns had  himself a ball: not with his marksmanship – Rob Cook, the full-back with a goal-kicking action that makes him look like a cross between a Cossack dancer and a dysentery victim, assumed the duties before the interval – but with a series of brilliant broken-field runs and eye-of-the-needle passes. He created a lovely try down the left for May in the left corner and would have bagged one himself had not May’s inside pass to Mike Tindall been ruled forward.

Unfortunately, the fun did not last. Burns pulled up abruptly early in the second half after trying to thread a running clearance through a bunch of onrushing opponents and was quickly withdrawn. Much of the electricity threatened to disappear with him, although Bath’s third try, cleverly finished by Biggs early in the last quarter, was well worth watching. Then came Gloucester’s courageous resurgence, which gave the game the finale it deserved.

Scorers: Bath – Tries Penalty try, Eastmond, Biggs; Conversions Heathcote 2; Penalties Heathcote 4. Gloucester – Tries May 2, Trinder; Conversion Burns, Cook; Penalties Cook 2.

Bath: N Abendanon; H Agulla, M Banahan, K Eastmond, T Biggs; T Heathcote, P Stringer; P James (N Catt 75), R Webber (R Batty 68), D Wilson, D Day (W Spencer 68), D Attwood, F Louw (capt), C Fearns, B Skirving.

Gloucester: R Cook; C Sharples, H Trinder, M Tindall (capt), J May; F Burns (R Mills 50), D Robson; N Wood (D Murphy 55), D Dawidiuk, R Harden (D Chistolini 20), L Lokotui, W James, T Savage (P Buxton 74), A Qera (H Edmonds 52), S Kalamafoni.

Referee: T Wigglesworth (Yorkshire)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum