Gloucester 30 Bath 12: Walker sees off Bath at a stroll

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The Independent Online

The result and a maximum five points did not do much for Gloucester as they still missed out on a place in the semi-finals, but they certainly went out in style.

Their exciting young backs and powerful forwards ended up well in control and although news of the Ospreys-Bristol tie drew groans form the 7,453 crowd at chilly Kingsholm, still the Cherry and Whites had given them something to cheer.

The home side asserted their superiority up front almost from the outset, stringing together some body-buckling scrums and driving mauls. Bath conceded a string of penalties and that resulted in Gloucester being awarded a penalty try as their scrum surged its way to the try-line, to open their account in the eighth minute. Unsurprisingly it was a forward who scored Gloucester's second try, although it only arrived after some sharp approach work by their lively backs.

Captain Mike Tindall played a big part in the build-up, serving up some timely reminders of his distributive abilities, before Adam Balding homed in on the ball as the action entered the close-quarter combat zone.

The powerful No 8 spun around a tackle before dropping over the line. Willie Walker, Gloucester's stand-off, added the conversion.

Bath had not looked too bad and their backs were boosted by the telling presence of former Leeds Rhinos rugby league player Chev Walker. He was inventive, invasive and influential, and initially overshadowed Gloucester's own convert Karl Pryce from Bradford Bulls, who was making his senior debut.

Like their opponents, however, Bath needed their power pack to get them on to the scoresheet, when prop Daniel Parkes, playing his first game for the club was driven over following a penalty line-out.

The moment of the match came after the interval though. Bath had been pressing when suddenly Willie Walker broke from inside his 22. His crisp pass found the speedy Morgan, who delivered to Pryce and the giant winger sent out a fabulous pass to flying flanker James Merriman, who made light of the 35 metre run-in.

To their credit, Bath did not capitulate and in the face of some confident Gloucester play, they burst upfield and centre Tom Cheeseman got a deserved touchdown. But after missing a penalty, Willie Walker made amends late on with a searing burst first across the face of the Bath defence, then a slicing run through it to seal a try-scoring bonus point.

Gloucester: O Morgan; K Pryce, J Adams (J Simpson-Daniel, 56), M Tindall (capt), M Foster; W Walker, H Thomas (R Lawson, 61); P Collazo (J Forster, 23-29), R Elloway (R McMillan, 77), C Nieto (J Forster, 72), J Pendlebury (A Eustace, 62), W James, J Boer (A Brown, 72), J Merriman, A Balding.

Bath: M Stephenson; I Davey (J Cuthbert, 72), C Walker, T Cheeseman, D Bory; C Malone (capt), P Travagli (A Williams, 56); D Parkes (D Barnes, 53), D Ward, L Ovens, D Smith (J Miller, ht), R Fidler, H Louw, J Faamatuianu (C Brooker, 70), C Goodman (J Miller, 33-ht & J Bentall, 78).

Referee: D Pearson (Northumberland).

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