Leeds Carnegie head coach James Lowes bemoaned his side’s poor start as they suffered their first league defeat in nearly two months at home to Bristol.
Having been 20 points down at one stage in the second half, two late tries from Jonah Holmes and Jacob Rowan secured Carnegie what could prove to be a crucial losing bonus point.
Lowes said: “It was a poor start to the game, but it was a good finish for us. The start was an area that we talked about before the game and we needed to be really strong.”
The hosts, who were looking for their third win of the season against Bristol in all competitions, fell behind early. After the Carnegie pack were penalised at the scrum, a powerful rolling maul from the resulting penalty saw Ross Rennie crash over and Nicky Robinson added the extras.
But the home side cut the deficit to just four points when Glyn Hughes kicked a penalty from 30 metres after Bristol were penalised for holding on in the tackle.
Hughes pulled a penalty wide after Andy Robinson’s men were pinged for offside.
More indiscipline from Leeds at the breakdown allowed Robinson to kick to the corner, and scrum-half Ricky Tipuna raced over for the second try.
Robinson broke at pace and his offload found Nick Koster and he scored under the posts.
Bristol were then penalised for offside, and having missed his second penalty attempt, former Moseley man Hughes made no mistake with his third and the lead was cut to 15 points. Then Hughes bounced off a couple of tackles and crashed over.
Bristol secured their try-scoring bonus point just three minutes into the second-half after they won the ball from a Leeds scrum and Tipuna broke away from the back of the pack to score under the upright and Robinson added the two points.
The influential Rowan and Hughes continued to press the visitors from the West Country but handling errors let Leeds down. Having won a penalty from a scrum on halfway, Bristol threw to the front of the lineout and only a last-ditch tackle from Rowan prevented the energetic Tipuna from completing his hat-trick in the corner. But minutes later prop Gaston Cortes rumbled his way over.
Rowan and replacement Joe Graham were yellow carded for hands in the ruck, then Bristol lost Jack Tovey to the sin-bin for a late tackle on Hughes.Holmes strode over and after Hughes’ conversion, the home side sniffed a losing bonus point, which for so long had seemed beyond them. And, from the next attack, Jon Clarke’s offload found the excellent Rowan who crossed for a converted try to secure the losing bonus point.
Leeds Carnegie: Holmes, Goss (Lozowski 61), Clarke, Burdon, D.Doherty, Hughes, J.Doherty (Hampson 40), Harris (Imiolek 49), Nilsen (Graham 60-69), Tussac (Harris 69), Casson (Hannay 63), Myerscough, Sisi (Walker 60), Rowan (c), Burrows.
Bristol Rugby: Wallace, Slowik, Hughes, Eves, Short (Tovey 49), Robinson (Jarvis 77), Tipuna (Baldwin 79), Traynor, Lawrence, Cortes (Hall 61), Glynn (Townson 61), Sorenson (c), Koster (Eadie 61), Rennie, Skirving.
Referee: Thomas Foley (RFU).