Matt Banahan secures draw for Gloucester after stunning Bath comeback

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Matt Banahan denied his former Bath team-mates a remarkable Gallagher Premiership victory as his late converted try secured Gloucester a 31-31 draw.

Ex-England wing Banahan, who joined Gloucester this summer following a long Bath career that saw him more than 250 appearances, struck two minutes from time, with Billy Twelvetrees’ conversion ensuring the points were shared.

Gloucester were crusing at 21-0 ahead just before half-time at the Recreation Ground, but Bath wiped out that advantage during a pulsating second period and led by seven points in the closing stages.

Hooker Tom Dunn scored two tries for Bath, while wing Semesa Rokoduguni and substitute lock Elliott Stooke also crossed, with Freddie Burns kicking two conversions and Rhys Priestland adding two conversions and a penalty.

Banahan, flanker Ruan Ackermann, who crossed twice, and Callum Braley claimed Gloucester touchdowns, while Twelvetrees booted all four conversions and a penalty.

The game was delayed for around 10 minutes in the second half while Gloucester’s former England wing Charlie Sharples received treatment following an attempted tackle on his opposite number Joe Cokanasiga before being carried off.

After a man-of-the-match performance against Northampton last Saturday, Gloucester fly-half Danny Cipriani was quickly into the action, testing and probing Bath’s defence in front of watching England head coach Eddie Jones.

Danny Cipriani continued his impressive start to life at Gloucester with an assured display
Danny Cipriani continued his impressive start to life at Gloucester with an assured display (Paul Harding/PA)

Banahan was stopped just short of the line, yet Gloucester’s forwards secured sustained territory and possession before Ackermann crashed over from close range.

Twelvetrees’ conversion put Gloucester seven points up, and Bath’s problems were compounded when captain Matt Garvey went off injured, causing an early change as Stooke replaced him.

Gloucester did not require a second invitation to take advantage as Cipriani split Bath’s defence with a brilliant pass that Ackermann took at full speed before galloping 35 metres and claiming his second try that Twelvetrees again converted.

Bath’s frustrations were summed up when referee Luke Pearce reversed a kickable penalty that gave Gloucester a chance to clear possession, before Braley scored his team’s third try, with Twelvetrees converting for a 21-point advantage.

Bath needed to open their account before the break, and with much of the crowd’s attention distracted by smoke billowing from a vehicle fire beyond the far corner of the ground, they struck.

Quickly-recycled possession resulted in Rokoduguni scoring wide out – Burns added the extras – then Bath struck again just after half-time as Dunn went over and Burns kicked another conversion to slash Gloucester’s lead.

Bath threatened a spectacular turnaround, and it required all of Cipriani’s experience to put Gloucester back on the front foot after enduring a torrid time inside their own 22.

Billy Twelvetrees kicked the conversion which levelled the score
Billy Twelvetrees kicked the conversion which levelled the scores (Paul Harding/PA)

Priestland, a second-half substitute for Burns, tied the game by converting Dunn’s score and set up a gripping closing 15 minutes as Gloucester’s healthy lead just before the break was erased.

A Twelvetrees penalty edged Gloucester back in front 11 minutes from time, only for Priestland to land an equalising kick two minutes later following a Rokodoguni charge that almost breached the visiting defence.

Priestland then launched a brilliant touch-finder from half way to within sight of Gloucester’s corner flag, giving his forwards an imposing attacking platform.

And Stooke touched down for a try that Priestland converted brilliantly from the touchline, then came Banahan’s late show and Twelvetrees’ conversion.

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