Nigel Davies' side fought back from being ten points down in the first five minutes, from being on the wrong end of a number of controversial TMO calls, playing the final 30 minutes with only fourteen men and missing a number of kicks at goal.
For all that, the Cherry and Whites dug deep to stay within a score of their opponents for most of the game, and even piled on the pressure as the second half ticked on.
They didn't actually come that close to securing a winning score, but the sheer guts and character on display will have won them many admirers.
With the benefit of hindsight, the Gloucester camp will look back on some key calls that went against them. However, that's to take nothing away from a Bath side who asked questions all evening.
A losing bonus point is the reward for the effort on the night and, with Wasps doing likewise at Worcester, Gloucester remain in fourth place in the Aviva Premiership table.
London Welsh are next up, on March 23rd at Kingsholm, so the next two weeks will be a chance to recharge batteries ahead of what could be a thrilling end to the season.
Gloucester came to Bath looking to make it three wins in a row at the Rec, and build upon a record of nine wins from the last ten league games against their local rivals.
Before the game started, there was an emotional note as Lee Mears, recently forced to retire, led the Bath team out to a superb reception from the Bath faithful.
The home side would have been looking for a strong start and duly got one. A couple of penalties conceded gave Tom Heathcote a long range penalty chance. The ball didn't look cleanly struck but bisected the posts.
It got better for Bath. Matt Banahan stepped inside Mike Tindall and Will James on his own 22 and set off downfield. The centre then kicked ahead for Tom Biggs, who was tackled by Charlie Sharples as he looked to gather.
It went to the TMO, who awarded a penalty try. Heathcote converted for 10-0 and Sharples was yellow carded.
Gloucester badly needed to regroup, and had a chance of points when Burns tried a penalty from well inside his own half as Bath went off their feet, but the ambitious kick was well short.
The Cherry and Whites then got a real gift. A quick tap saw Nick Abendanon in space, but his kick was blocked by Henry Trinder who regathered to score. Burns' conversion was wide but Gloucester were back in at 10-5.
A lighting break from Burns then opened up the Bath defensive line. Tindall took it on powerfully, but was just halted by Horacio Agulla. The offload found Burns who darted over in the corner, but the try was chalked off for a forward pass after consultation with the TMO.
As the first quarter came to a close, Rupert Harden was forced to limp out of the action, before another long range Burns penalty was short and wide.
However, Burns was then instrumental in Gloucester's second try. Good work by the pack set up great field position, before a superb flat pass from Burns found Trinder who put Jonny May into the corner. Burns added a superb conversion for a 12-10 lead.
It had been a superb fightback from Gloucester, but Heathcote nudged Bath back into the lead on 26 minutes with a well struck penalty.
Burns then very nearly created another score with a smart switch of direction, but it was Heathcote's turn to show his skill with ball in hand.
A searing break split the Gloucester midfield defence before a well timed pass gave Kyle Eastmond the chance to step the final man and score under the posts. The conversion made it 20-12 after 32 minutes.
Another penalty from Burns drifted wide on 35 minutes, so Rob Cook stepped up for the next one and silenced some uncalled for jeering by drilling the kick home off the top of the crossbar.
A breathless half of rugby came to an close with the home team in front 20-15. Both teams had looked devastating in attack, but vulnerable in defence.
After the start they'd had, Gloucester may have been thinking it wasn't their night. Even more so, when the first two TMO decisions went against them.
However, they'd regrouped and could have been closer but for the missed kicks at goal. There was everything to play for in the second half.
Bath got the better start. Burns failed to find touch, Bath countered and won a penalty for offside. Heathcote made it 23-15 with ease, only for Cook to immediately respond in kind.
However, Gloucester were then dealt a bitter blow as Darren Dawidiuk was red carded for what was ruled to be a tip tackle, but which looked far from dangerous, even on the replay.
The Cherry and Whites were now massively up against it, with just under half an hour to go. Huia Edmonds joined the fray as a front row replacement, and Akapusi Qera was the man who had to make way.
Bath quickly took advantage of the superiority of numbers, as Heathcote added his fourth penalty of the night for a 26-18 lead before Carl Fearns was yellow carded for Bath as Gloucester finally got a break.
Decisions continued to go against Gloucester, and it finally told as an attacking five metre lineout quickly saw them back on their own 22.
Lineout ball off the top, slick hands across the Bath back line and Tom Biggs had just enough space to get around Rob Cook before cutting inside to score a fine try. 31-18.
Still the 14 men fought. A quick tap by Robson caught the home side napping as he scampered into the 22. Gloucester stayed patient and, eventually, Cook put May over in the corner before converting superbly to get Gloucester back within a score at 31-25.
More referring decisions then conspired against the Cherry and Whites. Peter Stringer escaped when he kicked the ball out of Dan Robson's hands with Gloucester well placed in the shadow of the Bath posts.
However, justice was perhaps done when Heathcote missed a kickable penalty shortly afterwards.
Mills then saw an ambitious long range effort dip underneath the crossbar, as Gloucester sought to peg Bath back further still.
It was as close as Gloucester got. Despite a brave final surge, Bath were able to keep their line intact and Nigel Davies and his side were left to reflect on a fantastic effort that came up just short.
|Bath Rugby Score Card|
|Gloucester Rugby Score Card|