Rampant Gloucester run in 10 tries past Bath for record Premiership win

Gloucester can continue to dream. This 10-try bonus-point victory, secured by half-time against unbelievably ragged West Country rivals, maintains their hope of the playoffs in what promises to be a fiendishly close finale in the top-four race. Nothing less than five points would have done, realistically, after Northampton’s nerve-jangling win against Harlequins on Friday. But this was sheer destruction, and Gloucester’s biggest margin of victory in the Premiership.

With third-placed Harlequins facing two difficult matches against Exeter and Gloucester, anything is possible. Having lifted themselves into fifth, a point behind Saints, the Cherry and Whites will carry confidence from this astonishingly one-side derby triumph.

Bath remain rock-bottom, swatted aside with ludicrous ease. The incoming head coach, Johann van Graan, will arrive from Munster in the summer with a job on his hands. There is no shortage of raw material, especially in the backs, and world-class back-rowers such as Sam Underhill and Taulupe Faletau are hardly weak links. But this collapse will be the most painful defeat of a traumatic season.

Last year, Eddie Jones memorably likened Mark Atkinson to a man running for a bus. He “had things falling out of his back pack” in his desperation to prove himself for the national side, Jones said, and the powerful Gloucester centre was in the thick of things from the off here. An intelligent delayed pass created an early opening for Louis Rees-Zammit, who unwisely chose to ignore teammates on either side.

Valeriy Morozov, the Bath prop, had been shown a yellow card for a high tackle after three minutes and a well-orchestrated Gloucester driving maul culminated in Matias Alemanno burrowing over, only for the TMO to rule out the score for a double movement. Chris Harris almost sprinted under the posts but was dragged down by a brilliant tackle by Faletau.

Gloucester finally got off the mark, having been frustrated throughout a spell of significant early pressure, when Harris dived over and Adam Hastings converted. Clark, the Bath centre, was shown a yellow card for a trip at the same time, meaning he disappeared from the action just as Morozov returned. Still, Bath trailed by seven points after enduring 20 minutes with a man disadvantage.

Matias Alemanno of Gloucester wins a lineout.
Matias Alemanno of Gloucester wins a lineout. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Rees-Zammit’s early blunder would be a distant memory by half-time. After Bath got themselves in a muddle at a defensive lineout, Hastings popped a smart offload to the Wales international who danced over in the left corner. Inside the final five minutes of the half, when Tom de Glanville was turned over, Rees-Zammit kicked ahead and brushed off Joe Cokanasiga to dive on his second and Gloucester’s third try.

He narrowly failed to snatch a hat-trick a couple of minutes later but when Atkinson’s one-handed offload set up Santiago Carreras to canter over and seal the bonus point before the break.

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Less than a minute after half-time, Rees-Zammit fed Ben Morgan for try No 5 and the Wales wing was nearly in again a couple of minutes later, hauled down in the right corner only for Atkinson to run in a jaw-droppingly easy try after Underhill rushed out of Bath’s defensive line. Lewis Ludlow, the captain, sauntered over for the seventh and kicked an advertising board to pieces during his passionate celebration.

A lovely passing move sent Ben Meehan over , bringing up Gloucester’s 50 with 12 minutes on the clock, before Jamal Ford-Robinson got to the front of the queue to crash over and Alemanno romped over for the 10th, Bath’s humiliation complete. The home crowd headed for the bars dreaming of glory at the Premiership final in seven weeks’ time.