Premiership: Danny Cipriani helps Gloucester earn 31-31 draw at Bath
|Bath (7) 31|
|Try: Rokoduguni, Dunn 2, Stooke Cons: Burns 2, Priestland 2 Pen: Priestland|
|Gloucester (21) 31|
|Try: Ackermann 2, Braley, Banahan Cons: Twelvetrees 4 Pen: Twelvetrees|
Matt Banahan scored a late try against former club Bath to earn Gloucester a dramatic 31-31 draw in a thrilling West Country derby.
Banahan went over following a brilliant no-look pass from England fly-half Danny Cipriani, watched by England boss Eddie Jones, moments after Elliott Stooke had put Bath in front for the first time.
Gloucester dominated the first half and two Ruan Ackermann tries and one from Callum Braley put them 21-0 up just before the break.
But Bath replied through Semesa Rokoduguni on the stroke of half-time and two Tom Dunn tries drew them level before the late drama.
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The Rec was bouncing when former Gloucester man Stooke went over in the corner, and replacement fly-half Rhys Priestland converted from the touchline to give Bath a seven-point lead with time running out.
But, a week after setting up Charlie Sharples for a try against Northampton with a stunning pass, Cipriani produced another piece of magic to create a score for his team, instantly throwing a pass to Banahan a split second before being tackled by onrushing Bath defenders.
Billy Twelvetrees added a simple conversion and moments later, with the clock having ticked past 80 minutes, Cipriani kicked the ball into touch from deep inside his own 22 to signal the end of the game.
Cipriani, who was told earlier in the week by Jones that he would be judged on his performances, had earlier played a part in both Ackermann's scores, including a perfectly-timed pass to send the flanker racing through a gap in the Bath defence for his second.
Bath rallied impressively as Rokoduguni scored in the corner and hooker Dunn burst over from close range either side of Sharples receiving extensive treatment before being carried off after being knocked out attempting to tackle Joe Cokanasiga.
Bath rugby director Todd Blackadder:
"I thought Gloucester played really well, and at 21-0 down it was a real character test for our players. They had to dig deep to come back and put us in a position to win it, so I am really proud of them.
"There was no rollocking at half-time, it was just focusing on what we needed to do to get ourselves back in the game, and the boys went out and did that.
"If anything, it has created more self-belief for us. We know it wasn't the complete performance, but a hell of a lot of self-belief will come out of that.
"You can always come back. It's the mindset and the players, and it came from the players."
Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann:
"Both teams showed a lot of character. We played some good rugby, and we showed character at the end. We need to be more clinical and more accurate when we put ourselves in the position we did with a 21-point lead.
"You can look at is as a disappointment, the fact we couldn't go and get at least another 10 or 12 points in the second half and put the game away, but the reality of this competition is that teams will always come back at you.
"It's a collective effort, and we will take heart out of this performance away from home. We showed in the first half if we play the rugby we want to play, we can cause teams problems. It's just that consistency."
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Bath: Homer; Rokoduguni, Roberts, Willison, Cokanasiga; Burns, Green; Catt, Dunn, Thomas, Attwood, Garvey (capt), Mercer, Underhill, Faletau,
Replacements: Walker, van Rooyen, Perenise, Stooke, Ellis, Cook, Priestland, Brew.
Gloucester: Woodward; Sharples, Trinder, Twelvetrees, Banahan; Cipriani, Braley; Rapava Ruskin, Hanson, Balmain, Slater (capt), Galarza; Ackermann, Ludlow, Morgan.
Replacements: Marais, Hohneck, Knight, Clarke, Polledri, Vellacott, Hudson, Williams.
Referee: Luke Pearce.