Gloucester's chances slide as Vickery is sent off

Gloucester not only lost a golden opportunity to regain the lead in the Allied Dunbar Premiership, they also lost the services of the England prop Phil Vickery - sent off for piling into a ruck after the referee had blown his whistle.

When Vickery and the rest of the bodies were cleared from the ruckage, Bath's England hooker Mark Regan remained immobile for long minutes before being put into a neck brace and then carried off. The news though was good, the England hooker was reported to be back on his feet after the match which saw Bath leapfrog their West Country rivals into third place.

Overall Bath had more ideas and more idea of what they were doing. They prodded and probed the opposition, testing for weakness, if it was not Mike Catt kicking over and behind for Iain Balshaw to chase, then it was the centres punching dents in the Gloucester line.

The Bath forwards were far more focused as well, although Dan Lyle lost them a great position when he turned over the ball in the tackle. Gloucester only seemed to fire in shortish bursts. Simon Mannixtried to launch his backs buttoo often the Bath midfield were able to close them down, reducing their options.

If the home side did find themselves in the clear they were generally beaten off by Matt Perry. The England fullback took root under the high ball, counter-attacked with venom and fed his team-mates with searching passes.

Gloucester were at their best in a one-sided first half in the 10 minutes that Rob Fidler was kicking his heels in the sin-bin. The lock had already been spoken to by the referee Chris Rees for tangling with Bath's Martin Haag. When he decided to come out for a second round the ref stopped the contest and showed him yellow.

Bath had by then slipped in for two tries, by the centres Mike Tindall - a lovely wrong-footing pass at a ruck by Jon Preston opening up the blind side - and Kevin Maggs, put in by Iain Balshaw's raw pace.

That had wiped out Simon Mannix's third-minute drop goal, and Bath, having conceded a penalty, then moved clear and away. First Balshaw snaked through despairing hands, then Perry was sent in by a brilliant pass from Tindall.

Bath had moved even further ahead before the Gloucester giants stirred. They rumbled upfield and lock Ian Jones was put through by the prop Trevor Woodman.

For a long spell after that Gloucester battered the Bath ramparts culminating with the ruck that Vickery despoiled But there was no doubt about Bath's fifth try. Lyle sprang through a slack defence and Preston completed the honours

Gloucester: B Hayward (C Yates, 50); J Ewens, T Fanolua, R Tombs, B Johnson (R Jewell, 41); S Mannix, I Sanders; T Woodman, N McCarthy (J Djoudi, 74), A Deacon (P Vickery, 41), R Fidler, I Jones (M Cornwell, 74), S Ojomoh, E Pearce (A Hazell, 47; A Deacon, 68), K Jones (capt).

Bath: M Perry; I Balshaw, K Maggs, M Tindall, A Adebayo; M Catt, J Preston; V Ubogu, M Regan (L Mears, 68), J Mallett (C Horsman, 53), M Haag, S Borthwick, G Thomas, D Lyle, B Clarke (capt).

Referee: C Rees (London).

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