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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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|Sunday 21st December|
|14:00||Wasps vs London Irish|
|Friday 26th December|
|15:00||London Irish vs London Welsh|
|Saturday 27th December|
|14:00||Bath vs Exeter|
|14:00||Sale vs Leicester|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Saracens|
|16:30||Harlequins vs Northampton|
|Sunday 28th December|
|14:30||Gloucester vs Wasps|
|Friday 2nd January|
|19:45||Northampton vs Newcastle Falcons|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|14:00||Saracens vs London Irish|
|16:30||Exeter vs Gloucester|
|Sunday 4th January|
|14:00||Wasps vs Sale|
|14:00||Leicester Tigers vs Bath|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Harlequins|
|Friday 9th January|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Saracens|
|Saturday 10th January|
|14:00||Sale vs Northampton|
|15:00||Bath vs Wasps|
|15:15||Harlequins vs Leicester Tigers|
|Sunday 11th January|
|14:00||Newcastle Falcons vs London Welsh|
|15:00||London Irish vs Exeter|
|Saturday 14th February|
|15:00||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|15:00||Northampton vs London Irish|
|15:00||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 15th February|
|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Sale|
|15:00||Saracens vs Bath|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Gloucester 16 - 39 Bath|
|Northampton 23 - 19 Leicester Tigers|
|Saracens 78 - 7 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 15 - 7 Newcastle Falcons|
|Friday 19th December|
|Sale Sharks 18 - 11 Exeter|
|Sunday 30th November|
|Newcastle Falcons 13 - 18 Sale Sharks|
|London Welsh 14 - 43 Northampton|
|London Irish 9 - 21 Gloucester|
|Saturday 29th November|
|Exeter 27 - 19 Saracens|
|Leicester Tigers 18 - 16 Wasps|
|Friday 28th November|
|Bath 25 - 6 Harlequins|
|Sunday 23rd November|
|London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester Tigers|
|Saracens 24 - 31 Northampton|
|Saturday 22nd November|
|London Irish 23 - 33 Bath|
|Exeter 31 - 15 Wasps|
|Friday 21st November|
|Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 Gloucester|
|Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Sunday 16th November|
|Wasps 71 - 7 London Welsh|
|Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 Saracens|
|Saturday 15th November|
|Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle Falcons|
|Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London Irish|
|Friday 14th November|
|Gloucester 15 - 22 Harlequins|
|Northampton 18 - 24 Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com