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HEAD coach Tabai Matson hopes the pain of Bath’s European Challenge Cup disappointment can be the catalyst for success further down the line.

Director of rugby Todd Blackadder, who joined the Bath coaching staff alongside fellow New Zealander Matson last summer, came within minutes of leading his troops into a cup final in his first season in charge, only for the team to stumble late on.

A last-minute drop goal from Jules Plisson edged Stade Francais 28-25 ahead in their semi-final clash and although Bath still had a chance to level matters, fly-half George Ford missed a penalty.

Bath had fought back from 18-6 down at Stade Jean Bouin to lead 25-18 but were unable to get over the winning line as the Parisians earned their place at the Murrayfield showpiece.

“These are the most important lessons of the year to learn,” said Matson.

“We want to get to more semi-finals and finals so for us, it’s a really important review now. How can we learn to scrape over the line for a win, rather than slipping to a defeat?

“Our ability to deliver in the key moments is something we have to learn from. We could have closed the game out and made it harder for them.

“In those huge pressure moments, we need to learn to execute properly because we don’t want to have this feeling again.”

Bath do not have long to dwell on their cup exit as host near-neighbours Gloucester in the Premiership at the Rec on Sunday (3pm).

“There is so much to play for in this game,” said Matson. “It’s the last game of the season at the Rec and we want to send the supporters off into the summer happy with a good performance.

“It’s against one of our biggest foes who we don’t want to lose to.

“The Rec is like no other ground anywhere, it’s almost like the fans in the front row can touch the players.”

It’s always a great atmosphere anyway and I think the people from up the motorway will come down in their droves too and make it even livelier.”

Bath have it all to do in the race for the play-offs as they are four points adrift of fourth-placed Leicester Tigers. in the final qualifying spot, with two games to go.

Matson added: “It’s always hard being in this position when you are relying on someone else to fall over. All we can do is try to beat Gloucester and then get ready to move onto Sale.”