Bristol went back to the top of the Guinness Premiership table as they scored the only tries of this west country derby to complete a season’s treble over Bath. The match at Ashton Gate, was a 21,500 sell-out which set a new Premiership record for a regular season match, beating the 20,840 for London Irish’s game against Bath in March 2004 at the Madejski Stadium.
The visitors opened the scoring after 13 minutes after Bristol were penalised for pulling down at the lineout and Olly Barkley slotted the ball between the uprights.
Bristol just missed out on quickly cancelling out the score when centre Josh Taumalolo charged down a kick from fly-half Shaun Berne, but the ball went over the dead-ball line.
Bristol had another opportunity 10 minutes later when Lee Robinson came off his right wing to give the final pass to left-wing David Lemi, who appeared to have squeezed in the corner. But after consulting video judge Geoff Warren, match referee Sean Davey awarded a five-metre scrum for a knock-on.
Minutes later Bristol were awarded a penalty after scrum-half Nick Walshe deliberately palmed the ball over the dead-ball line.
Bristol kicked for the corner and were awarded another penalty after Bath pulled down the line-out.
From that throw Bristol forwards drove over the line with skipper Gareth Llewellyn claiming the touchdown.
The conversion from David Hill was off target and Bath replied through a second Olly Barkley penalty. But Bristol went in to the break 8-6 in front through a Hill penalty after Bath lock Peter Short was sent to the sin-bin after a deliberate knock-on when in an offside position.
Bristol started the second half well although Hill missed a penalty before they lost England scrum-half Shaun Perry with what appeared a rib injury.
Hill added his second penalty before Barkley missed a penalty attempt. Then Bristol were reduced to 14 men when ex-England hooker Mark Regan was yellow-carded for a late high tackle on Walshe.
Bath were quickly down to 14 men when hooker Lee Mears was sent to the sin-bin for a knee on Bristol skipper Llewellyn which meant that both replacement hookers came on – Saul Nelson for Bristol and Pieter Dixon in his first Premiership game of the season.
With 10 minutes remaining on the clock Hill chipped across field Robinson out-jumped full-back Michael Stephenson for the ball to dive over the line.
Referee Davy again called on the video referee for a decision before awarding the try but Hill was off target with his touchline conversion attempt.