In the end, Bristol finish joint on points with Bath, the next determining factor being the number of games won over the course of the season. That too was tied, and so Bath's superior points difference – by a mere 25 – saved them in the end.
Talk still persists of a merger between Bristol and Bath next season, but the Shoguns must be less attractive partners for Bath now that the relegation race has been decided in favour of the men from the Recreation Ground.
Bath had to beat Newcastle to have any chance of survival, and they did, while even a bonus point in defeat against London Irish would have saved Bristol's skin.
In the end though, despite tries from back row Craig Short either side of the break, the repeated scoring of the Exiles was too much, as they pulled away from their despairing rivals.
It cannot be forgotten too that London Irish were right in the thick of the relegation battle, and had they lost to Bristol, then it would have been the men from the Madejski Stadium who ended the season in the dreaded bottom spot.
They scored five tries in the end, England duo Michael Horak and Geoff Appleford grabbing one each, while Paul Sackey, Rob Hoadley and Naka Drotske were the other scorers.
Veteran fly-half Mark Mapletoft held his nerve to convert all five, as well as adding two penalties, in a match which perhaps serves as a fitting climax to the up-and-down tenure of South African player/coach Brendan Venter.
So, despair for Bristol, and an agonising wait for them to see if a stadium technicality at Rotherham, or a merger with neighbours Bath can save their Premiership skin.
For London Irish:Tries: Drotske, Hoadley, Appleford, Sackey, HorakCons: Mapleoft 5Pens: Mapletoft 2
For Bristol Shoguns:Tries: Short 2Con: DrahmPens: Drahm 3