GLOUCESTER'S Guinness A Team side produced a brave and spirited performance but went down to Bristol 38-24 at Clifton last night.
Gloucester led for much of the contest and Bristol left it late, coming from behind in the final seven minutes, but could have had the game won by that time with seven kicks at goal going astray.
The home side edged ahead in the early stages thanks to a Danny Gray penalty which was quickly cancelled out by a penalty from Mark Davies.
Bristol then went back in front in fortunate fashion. A Gray penalty attempt hit the post and Gloucester fumbled the rebound. Bristol recycled and Luke Arscott put Craig Short in for the first try of the evening.
But Gloucester hit back with another Davies penalty and then went in front after a Brad Davies kick downfield took a wicked bounce and wrong footed the defence. Davies scored, his brother converted and the visitors led 8-13 after 17 minutes.
Bristol drew level after a five metre catch and drive was repelled but possession maintained through several phases before Craig Short went over for his second score.
Mark Davies put Gloucester back in front with a 28th minute penalty and there was no further score before half-time although both kickers missed shots at goal.
Davies and Gray swapped penalties to make the score 16-19 but Gray missed a chance to level matters on 53 minutes.
However, Gloucester's lead did not last and Bristol went ahead after 65 minutes when former Kingsholm prop Mark Irish touched down after a catch and drive. Gray missed the conversion and missed a penalty attempt shortly afterwards and Gloucester took full advantage when Hartpury College openside Ejike Uzonigue scored after 73 minutes to make the score 21-24.
Bristol then threw everything into attack. Greg Nicholls put Luke Arscott in for a score down the blindside and Gray converted from the touchline for 28-24.
Gray added another penalty and Gloucester had to resort to desperate measures to try and rescue a draw. Running the ball from behind their own line, an ambitious chip found only Arscott and, after several phases of possession, Dave Attwood got the killer try. Gray converted for a 38-24 final score.
In a full-on contest, 32 penalties were awarded and for Gloucester scrum-half Haydn Thomas had a lively first-half, the Davies brothers also impressed and the second rows had a lively battle.
Gloucester's next home game is against London Irish at Kingsholm next Monday, 7.30pm kick-off.
Speaking to the local media this week ahead of the Bath Rugby game, Head Coach Laurie Fisher stressed that the fundamental shape of Gloucester's game is in good shape but that the Cherry and Whites have to look after the ball better and make more of their scoring opportunities.
Skipper for the day Willi Heinz faced the cameras after the 13-18 home loss to Newcastle and expressed real frustration at not being able to back up last week's win at Sale, calling it a performance he and his team-mates are not proud of.
Speaking after the game, Charlie Sharples described it as 'the win that has eluded us.' The winger stressed that Gloucester had stayed positive after the first couple of weeks of the Aviva Premiership season and the 26-13 victory over Sale was a result of that focus.
Gloucester Rugby picked up their first win of the new Aviva Premiership season on Friday night, easing to a 26-13 win on the road at Sale Sharks. Director of Rugby David Humphreys was full of praise for his players on the night.
It's a game of small margins at the highest level, and so it proved to be at Kingsholm on Saturday afternoon as two second-half Bath tries earned a 6-15 victory from a game which Gloucester had dominated for long periods.
Greig Laidlaw is back to skipper Gloucester Rugby in Saturday's Aviva Premiership derby game against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm. James Hook will make his first start of the season at full-back and Billy Twelvetrees will make his 100th competitive appearance for the club.