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RUGBY: Gloucester 17 Bath 18
Updated 5:42pm Saturday 12th April 2014 in Sport
BATH maintained their Aviva Premiership play-off hopes after claiming a dramatic late victory over 11-man Gloucester at Kingsholm.
The home side had two players sent off - substitute prop Sila Puafisi and scrum-half Tavis Knoyle - while they also finished the game with centre Mike Tindall and hooker Huia Edmonds in the sin-bin.
Bath, who had three players yellow-carded themselves, prevailed through a 79th-minute penalty try - converted by fly-half George Ford - after Gloucester collapsed a maul. It was Bath's first league win at Kingsholm since 2006.
Centre Harry Trinder's 71st-minute try looked to have edged Gloucester home - fly-half Billy Twelvetrees chipped in with four penalties - while Bath captain Stuart Hooper scored a try and George Ford kicked two penalties before an incident-packed finale.
Bath forwards Carl Fearns, Matt Garvey and Dave Attwood were all yellow-carded, meaning Bath played 30 minutes of the game a man down, while the game went to uncontested scrums shortly after Puafisi departed.
Tonga international Puafisi received a red card from referee Tim Wigglesworth for a dangerous high tackle on Bath full-back Nick Abendanon, then Wales international Knoyle was sent off after he threw punches at Bath number eight Leroy Houston.
The Knoyle incident provided a spiteful end to a contest when neither side took a backward step, and Bath remain fourth going into next week's home appointment with relegation favourites Worcester.
Gloucester boss Nigel Davies made four changes from the side beaten by Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final opponents Wasps last weekend, including number eight Gareth Evans replacing England international Ben Morgan, and Tindall returning in midfield.
Bath, meanwhile, welcomed back Test props Paul James and David Wilson, with a solitary switch behind the scrum seeing Kyle Eastmond taking over from centre Gavin Henson.
Wales hooker Richard Hibbard, one of Gloucester's major signings for next term, was among a bumper crowd that saw Twelvetrees kick his team into an early lead.
But Bath drew level through a 12th-minute Ford penalty following a spell of scrum dominance, which took him past 200 Premiership points for the season.
The visitors continued to press following a Matt Banahan kick deep into Gloucester's 22, yet they were denied a try for wing Horacio Agulla - hat-trick hero of last Sunday's Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final victory over Brive - when Wigglesworth ruled midfield obstruction.
And that was the cue for Gloucester to regroup as they responded impressively through two more Twelvetrees penalties during a three-minute spell that also saw Fearns sin-binned following a technical infringement.
Bath only had themselves to blame as Wigglesworth punished their poor discipline - James proved a consistent transgressor - yet Ford's second penalty made it 9-6 as half-time approached.
It proved a false dawn from Bath's perspective, though, and Fearns' fellow flanker Garvey was yellow-carded just before the break for a high tackle on Evans that could yet attract attention from the match citing commissioner.
Evans was forced off injured as a result of the challenge, and Morgan entered the action with Gloucester three points clear halfway through a typically feisty derby.
Matters deteriorated early in the second period for Gloucester when Puafisi received his marching orders just eight minutes after going on as a replacement for Shaun Knight.
Abendanon was able to continue after treatment, but Bath then wiped out Gloucester's advantage when Hooper was driven over from a lineout to claim a try which had been on the cards once Puafisi was dismissed.
Ford missed the conversion, and then the game went to an unedifying sight of uncontested scrums as Gloucester had run out of tighthead prop options.
But Bath could not make the game safe, and they completed a trio of yellow cards when Attwood was sin-binned for not rolling away after a tackle.
Wigglesworth allowed neither side a chance to build momentum, yet Gloucester had Twelvetrees' goalkicking to fall back on, and his fourth successful penalty edged the home team back in front before a dramatic finish unfolded that was littered with red and yellow cards.
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