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Gloucester claim top spot
Simpson-Daniel proves the difference in West Country decider
Gloucester finished the Guinness Premiership season at the top of the table after James Simpson-Daniel's first half score handed the hosts an 8-6 victory at Kingsholm.
Simpson-Daniel's stunning individual score ultimately proved decisive and as Gloucester celebrated finishing the regular season in top spot, Bath found themselves staring down the barrel at an away play-off clash after the defeat condemned them to a third place finish.
Gloucester will host Leicester, and Bath travel to Wasps in next weekend's play-off fixtures as Steve Meehan's men will aim to become the first side playing on away soil to reach the Guinness Premiership decider at Twickenham.
On a glorious afternoon in the West Country both sides immediately showed their intent to finish the regular season top of the table with a string of thumping tackles.
Bath enjoyed the majority of the possession in the early stages, but it was Mike Tindall who came within yards of opening the scoring before scrum-half Michael Claassens produced a superb try-saving tackle.
That was to be Tindall's final significant contribution to the game as the former Bath centre was forced to leave the field through injury - Willie Walker slotted into the Gloucester back line in his place.
The first points of the afternoon, perhaps unsurprisingly came from the boot of Ryan Lamb after he converted a penalty conceded by Andrew Higgins to fire the hosts 3-0 ahead.
A spell of persistent Bath pressure followed, and Barkley quickly restored parity with a regulation penalty kick.
Bath's first points seemed to spring the home side into life, and Gloucester, cheered on by their vociferous Kingsholm crowd crossed the line for the only score on 33 minutes when Simpson-Daniel finished off a flowing move.
It was a stunning finish from the England hopeful as he cut off his wing through an array of challenges to cross the line and once more state his case for a regular run in the national side.
Barkley slotted over his second penalty of the afternoon shortly before half-time as Gloucester, perhaps fortunately, held a slender 8-6 lead going into the interval.
With news filtering through that Wasps had scored a bonus point try against Leeds, all of a sudden Bath where staring the possibility of an away play-off fixture straight in the face.
Moments later things went from bad to worse for the visitors as influential front rowers Matt Stevens and Lee Mears were forced off the field through injury within minutes of each other.
The absence of the star duo was taking its toll on Bath as Gloucester began to boss the line-outs and the visitors struggled to string together any penetrable attacks of note.
As end of season fatigue began to set into both camps in the dying stages, Gloucester continued their unbreakable defensive work and as the final whistle sounded the home fans cheered in exultation, while Bath are left with it all to do at Adams Park next weekend.
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|Friday 6th March|
|19:45||Bath vs Sale Sharks|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:00||Exeter vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Irish|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Northampton|
|Sunday 8th March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Saracens|
|15:00||Newcastle Falcons vs Leicester Tigers|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:45||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Saturday 28th March|
|15:00||London Irish vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Leicester vs Exeter|
|15:15||Saracens vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 29th March|
|14:00||Sale vs Gloucester|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Bath|
|Friday 10th April|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Bath|
|Saturday 11th April|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Gloucester|
|15:15||Saracens vs Leicester|
|Sunday 12th April|
|14:00||Exeter vs Northampton|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Sale|
|Saturday 25th April|
|14:00||Sale vs Harlequins|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Bath vs London Irish|
|15:00||Northampton vs Saracens|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Welsh|
|Sunday 26th April|
|14:00||Wasps vs Exeter|
|Saturday 9th May|
|14:00||Sale vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 1st March|
|Wasps 32 - 21 Gloucester|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Exeter 16 - 6 Bath|
|Saracens 22 - 17 Newcastle Falcons|
|Leicester Tigers 28 - 8 Sale Sharks|
|London Welsh 12 - 50 London Irish|
|Friday 27th February|
|Northampton 17 - 13 Harlequins|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|London Irish 6 - 12 Leicester Tigers|
|Saturday 21st February|
|Bath 13 - 21 Northampton|
|Harlequins 21 - 32 Exeter|
|Gloucester 48 - 10 London Welsh|
|Sale Sharks 14 - 10 Saracens|
|Friday 20th February|
|Newcastle 23 - 23 Wasps|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Wasps 37 - 6 Harlequins|
|London Welsh 12 - 52 Sale|
|Saracens 34 - 24 Bath|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Exeter 46 - 17 Newcastle|
|Friday 13th February|
|Leicester 18 - 15 Gloucester|
|Northampton 15 - 9 London Irish|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com