Bristol returned to the top of the GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP with an impressive win over Harlequins despite losing inspirational skipper Matt Salter in the first half.
Bristol, who had surrendered the league summit to neighbours Gloucester for 48 hours, started strongly.
And they took advantage of the extra man when Quins number eight Chris Hala’ufia was yellow-carded by Warwickshire referee David Rose for tackling England hopeful Shaun Perry when not 10 metres away at a tap penalty.
From the line out close to the Quins line, Perry scampered over for the opening try of the game after seven minutes play with fly-half Jason Strange converting from out wide.
The visitors came back quickly through a penalty from fly-half Adrian Jarvis.
But Bristol wasted no time in getting back down the other end with loosehead prop Alex Clarke coming close but, after sustained pressure, the 25-year-old was driven over by his fellow forwards despite Quins being back to full strength.
Strange add the extras but midway through the half he attempted a 45-metre penalty only for the ball to fall under the crossbar.
Bristol lost Salter just before the half-hour through injury and Strange to the sinbin.
Minutes before Strange’s departure, Quins full back Mike Brown made a 40-metre break but was stopped just short of the line by centre Josh Taumalolo.
But minutes later a grubber kick through from right wing Tom Williams saw left wing Ugo Monye getting his hand on the ball just before it went over the dead-ball line.
With four minutes of play remaining of the half and Bristol camped out close to the Quins line opting for a series of scrums rather than kicking for goal, Bristol were awarded a penalty try which was converted by Taumalolo just before Strange returned.
Strange missed a second penalty early in the second half but Bristol earned their third try-scoring bonus point of the season as wing David Lemi raced down the left touchline, stepping round Monye, to touch down.
Strange’s conversion went across the face of the uprights but he found his mark minutes later when Lemi popped up in midfield to show some more fancy footwork, dodging the Quins defence to score his second try.
Replacement flanker Geraint Lewis was bundled into touch just short of the line with 10 minutes remaining.
Quins kept battling away and scored their second try from close range through first-half replacement Andre Vos with Jarvis converting.
Quins lost skipper Nick Easter to the sin-bin in the final minutes of the game but replacement Tani Fuga crossed for Quins third try but the touchline conversion from Jarvis strayed wide of the far upright.