Yorkshire Carnegie succumbed to their second defeat of the season in thrilling fashion as Bristol won an 11-try epic 47-42, despite five tries from flanker Josh Bainbridge.
Carnegie boss Bryan Redpath said: “I’m delighted with the character of the players, but there were poor elements to our game and that allowed them a real opportunity to get in the game. On the whole we’ve come here and got two points but we’ve conceded six tries and scored five, but there were parts of it that were good.”
Harry Leonard opened the scoring with a penalty from 48 metres out for an infringement at the breakdown.
Yorkshire were then reduced to 14 men when Chris Pilgrim was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on with Will Cliff bearing down on the try line.
It did not take long for Bristol to make their man advantage count as a rolling maul had Yorkshire going backwards and Ross McMillan downed the ball.
The visitors regained the lead when Leonard nailed his second penalty from 48 metres after Bristol were pinged for pulling down the driving maul.
But that score seemed to kick the hosts into life once more, and with Carnegie still a man light, Jack Tovey found a gap in the defence and his offload allowed Olly Robinson to crash over.
But back came Carnegie and from a five-metre lineout from a penalty for off-side Bainbridge drove his way over in the corner for his first.
Leonard’s conversion from out wide squeezed through the posts and the visitors had the lead.
The sides exchanged penalties before Robinson scored his second try from the rolling maul.
A moment of brilliance from Bristol wing Ryan Edwards took his side further in front, with no one in the Yorkshire defence able to stop his run from deep.
But Carnegie would not lie down and the rolling maul, which has been an impressive weapon for Redpath’s men all season, proved profitable once more.
Bainbridge drove his way over and Leonard kicked the conversion.
Replacement Lee Imiolek then put Carnegie in trouble straight from the kick off after being pinged for offside and that allowed Jack Lam to power his way over.
Bristol’s sixth try was born out of a smart turn of pace from former Wasps flyer Tom Varndell who ripped the visitor’s defence to shreds allowing Will Cliff to cross over.
With seemingly pride just let to play for Bainbridge completed his hat-trick with a third try from a driving maul, which Leonard converted smartly from out wide.
Yorkshire earned their own four-try bonus point when England under-20 bound Bainbridge completed his fourth score from a driving maul from a five-metre lineout.
Bainbridge’s remarkable day was not done though and he scored his fifth after being put through by Joel Hodgson following a quick tap from a scrum free kick.
The conversion made the deficit just five points, but Bristol clung on to take the victory spoils.
Bristol: Wallace, Varndell, Tovey, Carpenter, Edwards, Henson (Jarvis 65), Cliff (Hampson 65), O’Connell (Traynor 69), McMillan (Crumpton 60), Cortes (Perenise 47), Joyce, Glynn (Townson 2), Lam, Robinson (Kosler 63), Smid.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Holmes, Stegmann, Lucock, Casson (Forsyth 58), Doherty, Leonard, Pilgrim (Hodgson 64), Beech (Imiolek 51), O’Donnell (Black 64), Ryder, Smith (Myerscough 51), Jones (c), Bainbridge, Burrows. Not used: Barnard.
Referee: Andrew Jackson (RFU).