Bath 44-20 Gloucester: Wales No 8 Taulupe Faletau scores hat-trick
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 30/04/17 6:42pm
Taulupe Faletau scored a hat-trick as Bath secured bragging rights in a 44-20 victory over Gloucester.
Wales international Faletau scored half of his side's six touchdowns at the Rec. Aled Brew, Max Clark and Robbie Fruean also went in, with Jonny May (two) and David Halaifonua responding.
Bath are now just four points behind fourth-placed Leicester but a losing bonus point in the final match would be enough for the Tigers to claim the remaining semi-final place.
The sluggish opening 20 minutes was to belie the second period in which both sides hardly had time to draw breath.
Rhys Priestland booted a penalty after 22 minutes when Gloucester went offside at a maul, but James Hook replied shortly after.
It was Faletau who grabbed the first try of the match straight from the restart of Hook's penalty when Bath retrieved the ball on the left and a box kick from scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i put his No 8 eight over ahead of Willi Heinz.
Priestland added the conversion before a clever cross-field kick by centre Henry Trinder gave May an easy run-in to the corner from 10 metres for the first of his tries.
Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder's half-time words of wisdom worked wonders, though, with Brew scoring just four minutes after the restart from extensive pressure inside the Gloucester 22.
And the Cherry and Whites were unzipped when Clark went on a straight line past hooker Richard Hibbard to romp over from 30 metres, Priestland adding the conversion.
That made it 24-8 and, from there, it was just a matter of whether Bath could get their bonus point as they upped their game into top gear.
Priestland kicked his second penalty of the match before replacement Fruean was put away to get over for the bonus-point try.
Bath were now taking full advantage of some weak Gloucester defence and Faletau was on hand to take a great offload from fellow Wales international Luke Charteris on the right corner for his second.
May stormed over for his second try, thanks to a pass from replacement Charlie Sharples, but there was no stopping Bath and, with just four minutes left, the outstanding Faletau scored his third in the left-hand corner.
Halaifonua stepped inside the defence on the left to give Gloucester the last word but their chances of a top-six finish for European Champions Cup qualification are now gone and they will be aiming to win the European Challenge Cup on May 12 for any chance of entering the biggest continental competition next season.