Little comes up trumps as Bath end long wait for victory

Bath 24 Gloucester 8
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The Independent Online

Bath supporters streaming away from the Rec were wishing each other "Happy New Year" with rather more confidence after a long-awaited win to end a miserable run of results.

Not since their "Great Escape" from relegation in 2002-03 had Bath gone seven league matches without a win. Yet, just when it seemed that the pressure was easing, came the news that lowly Leeds had pulled off an improbable win at Newcastle. And where do Bath go next? Headingley, naturally, and with only a three-point advantage over the bottom club.

Head coach Steve Meehan insisted: "We go with the same mindset. It will change nothing in regard to our preparation – but we do know it's a massive game for us. The beauty of the Premiership is that it's so tight and any team can get up and beat another."

Worcester are just a point ahead of Bath in 10th place but Sale and Gloucester, with only two and three points more points themselves, are looking anxiously over their shoulders.

Without a home Premiership win since last season no one in the Bath camp was going to complain about the quality of the rugby. Pretty it wasn't. In fact the whole of the first half and much of the second was tedious in the extreme until replacement full-back Jack Cuthbert forced his way over in the right corner in the 68th minute.

Gloucester, now 17-3 adrift, tried desperately to get back into the game but fly-half Nicky Robinson flung one hopeful pass too many and Matt Banahan marked his return from suspension by intercepting and racing 50 metres to the posts.

Nicky Little added the conversion to his four penalties and it was well into the 79th minute when replacement prop Alasdair Dickinson ran in Gloucester's try. Their only other score, a Robinson penalty, had come 71 minutes earlier.

Bath: Tries Cuthbert, Banahan; Conversion Little; Pens Little 4. Gloucester: Try Dickinson; Pen Robinson.

Bath: N Abendanon (J Cuthbert, 40); M Stephenson, M Carraro, S Hape (R Davis, 74), M Banahan; N Little, M Claassens (S Bemand, 74); D Flatman (D Barnes 72), L Mears (P Dixon 74), D Bell (D Wilson 55), S Hooper, P Short (D Grewcock, 55), A Beattie, J Salvi (B Skirving 74), L Watson.

Gloucester: O Morgan; C Sharples, J Simpson-Daniel, T Molenaar (E Fuimaono-Sapolu, 56), T Voyce; N Robinson, R Lawson (D Lewis, 16); N Wood (A Dickinson, 70), S Lawson, G Somerville (P Capdevielle 70), D Attwood (A Eustace, 56), A Brown, A Strokosch, A Hazell (L Narraway, 62), G Delve.

Referee: S Davey (RFU).