The old adage that the scoreboard never lies was certainly not true at Ashton Gate where Warriors endured only wretched luck.
Warriors controlled the game for long periods but that was not reflected in points scored as they had two tries disallowed for forward passes in a frustrating afternoon of near-misses.
A brilliant athletic finish from Noah Heward was the highlight for Warriors and his try nine minutes into the second half put Warriors right back into the game.
But the advantage was immediately handed back to Bristol with Tom Whiteley breaking two tackles to score two minutes later for the try that dashed Warriors’ hopes of heading back up the M5 with a win.
There was still then chance of a losing bonus point but Perry Humphreys celebrations were cut short after TMO David Rose spotted a forward pass from Sam Lewis to Gareth Simpson earlier in the attack.
Heward also had a try chalked off in the first half when Jamie Shillcock’s pass was adjudged forward and failure to convert pressure into points also proved costly as Bristol were clinical in attack and secured a try bonus point.
Heward departed midway through the second half with an ankle ligament injury and lock Andrew Kitchener suffered a head injury in the opening exchanges to add to Warriors’ woes.
Warriors were the dominant side for long periods of the first half but they did not have a point to show for their efforts.
Instead Bristol took the lead with a fourth minute penalty from Callum Sheedy and rode their luck as Warriors turned down a kickable penalty then saw Heward’s ‘try’ disallowed after Will Chudley had tapped and run and penalty and Humphreys had sustained the attack. The ball was moved right but Shillcock’s pass was forward.
Fin Smith then had the chance to level the scores but his long-range penalty drifted wide and Bristol, having absorbed the pressure, then hit Warriors with two tries in four minutes at the end of the first half.
Warriors found themselves under pressure at a succession of scrums in their 22 and Bristol’s persistence paid off when they had a penalty advantage and worked wing Toby Fricker over for the try.
Bristol launched a sweeping attack from the re-start and when Warriors were again penalised under pressure they worked the ball wide. Heward intercepted but Bristol won the ball back at the breakdown and Sam Jeffries nipped in for the try.
Warriors began the second half positively with Heward supplying his brilliant finish to a sustained attack.
But Whiteley’s try almost from the re-start proved decisive and Bristol secured the bonus point six minutes from time when Warriors were penalised in attack on the home 22 and Bristol launched a cheeky attack down the right flank which Fricker rounded off after
Warriors had failed to deal with a loose ball.
Warriors were forced to reshuffle their side again before kick-off with Ollie Lawrence (calf) and Kyle Hatherell (hip) both withdrawing with injuries with Ashley Beck and Joe Batley both coming into the starting XV.
Warriors | 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Noah Heward (Morris 62), 10 Fin Smith (Searle 57), 9 Will Chudley (Simpson 57), 1 Ethan Waller (Thomas 63), 2 Scott Baldwin (Annett 49), 3 Christian Judge (Tyack 53), 4 Matt Garvey, 5 Andrew Kitchener (Clegg 7), 6 Joe Batley, 7 Ted Hill (C), 8 Matt Kvesic (Lewis 66).
Replacements | 16 Niall Annett, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Jay Tyack, 19 Justin Clegg, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Gareth Simpson, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Oli Morris.
4m | Sheedy pen 3-0
36m | Fricker try 8-0
40m | Jeffries try 13-0
49m | Heward try 13-5
51m | Whiteley try 18-5
52m | Sheedy con 20-5
74m | Fricker try 25-5
75m | Sheedy con 27-5