Warriors suffered another agonising narrow defeat as Bristol fly-half Callum Sheedy kicked the winning penalty ten minutes from time of a ferocious encounter at Ashton Gate.
Warriors recovered well from being 10 points adrift at the break with Nick David scoring his second try in as many Premiership matches and Scott van Breda banging over a long range penalty to level the scores at 10-10 12 minutes from time.
But the sin-binning of lock Andrew Kitchener gave Bristol a penalty and Sheedy the opportunity to clinch victory which left Warriors with the consolation of a third consecutive losing bonus point.
Kitchener was the second Warriors player to be yellow carded following number eight Cornell du Preez who had only just returned to the pitch when Kitchener departed.
A heavy penalty count – 9-1 in Bristol’s favour in the first half and 14-4 overall – also weighed against Warriors who defended superbly throughout a physical and attritional contest.
For the second week running Warriors put themselves under early pressure by fumbling the kick-off then giving away penalties which gave Bristol five metre scrums and plenty of early pressure.
But Warriors outstanding defence turned the tide and Bristol failed to turn that early pressure into points.
Instead it was Warriors who produced the first clear-cut scoring opportunity when Ollie Lawrence delivered a sublime one-handed pass out of a tackle to Jamie Shillcock who scorched down the left wing.
Shillcock had Ted Hill in support but his pass eluded the flanker and the opportunity was missed.
Warriors continued to threaten in attack but all too often that good work was wasted with poor discipline at the breakdown which allowed Bristol to regroup.
Sheedy broke the stalemate midway through the first half when he landed a long range penalty from close to halfway.
When Warriors were penalised near halfway there appeared to be no threat but Bristol scrum-half Harry Randall took a quick tap penalty and right wing Luke Morahan split the defence with angled run for a try under the posts which Sheedy converted.
Warriors hit back within three minutes of the restart with Ethan Waller feeding van Breda whose long run was supported by David who took an inside pass and crossed with Duncan Weir adding the conversion.
Warriors re-organised well while du Preez, who was yellow-carded for a high tackle, was in the sin bin and actually won that ten minute period 3-0 as van Breda coolly landed a penalty from just inside Bristol’s half after the Bears got their paws on the ball in a ruck.
A draw would probably have been a fair result but Kitchener’s sin-binning, for an offence at the breakdown, allowed Sheedy to regain the lead for Bristol who were able to run the clock down in the last 10 minutes and preserve their record of just one defeat at Ashton Gate in all competitions in 11 months.
Warriors used all five of their forwards’ replacements in the second half including Academy loosehead prop Kai Owen who acquitted himself well on his Premiership debut against former All Blacks tighthead John Afoa.
Warriors | 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Ashley Beck (van Breda 33), 11 Nick David, 10 Duncan Weir (Lance 63), 9 Francois Hougaard, 1 Ethan Waller (Owen 53), 2 Matt Moulds (C) (Annett 52), 3 Nick Schonert (Palframan 53), 4 Anton Bresler (A Kitchener 68), 5 Graham Kitchener, 6 Ted Hill, 7 Marco Mama (Lewis 56), 8 Cornell du Preez.
Replacements | 16 Niall Annett, 17 Kai Owen, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Andrew Kitchener, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Scott van Breda.
22m | Sheedy pen 3-0
36m | Morahan try 8-0
37m | Sheedy con 10-0
43m | David try 10-5
44m | Weir con 10-7
68m | Van Breda pen 10-10
70m | Sheedy pen 13-10