Bristol 16-21 Leicester: Tigers claim hard-fought win at Ashton Gate
By Press Association
Last Updated: 25/11/16 10:26pm
Bristol remain without an Aviva Premiership win this season after a strong second-half performance from the Leicester pack secured the visitors a 21-16 victory at Ashton Gate.
The Tigers were far from convincing but they just did enough to send the home side to a ninth consecutive league defeat.
Adam Thompstone and Ellis Genge scored tries for Leicester, with Freddie Burns kicking three penalties and a conversion.
Rob Hawkins scored a try for Bristol which Adrian Jarvis converted, with Billy Searle kicking two penalties and Jarvis one.
Leicester began strongly and should have taken a fourth-minute lead, but Burns blazed wide with a 25-metre kick from in front of the posts.
A superb run from Bristol scrum-half Rhodri Williams then stunned Leicester. The Welshman powered away from a scrum on halfway before being dragged into touch, 10 metres from the try-line. Leicester lost the resulting line-out and, when they were penalised, Searle kicked the goal to give his side a 10th-minute lead.
Leicester lost flanker Mike Fitzgerald with an injury but they overcame the setback to produce a flowing movement after a strong run from Peter Bethan had put the home defence on the back foot. Bristol were unable to relieve the pressure and were penalised for Burns to make the score 3-3 at the end of the first quarter.
The first 25 minutes were error-ridden as both sides struggled to bring any continuity to their play. However, Leicester were marginally the better and took the lead when Burns kicked his second penalty.
Clever play between Searle and his two centres, Jason Woodward and Will Hurrell, had the Tigers' defence back-pedalling and, when the visitors were penalised, Searle tied the scores.
Burns had a simple opportunity to regain the lead when a penalty was awarded in front of the posts but Leicester preferred an attacking line-out.
Bristol lock Ian Evans was then yellow-carded for Leicester to take advantage and score the first try of the game. A well-judged cross-kick from Burns saw Thompstone leap above Jordan Williams to collect and score. Burns missed the conversion but his side still led 11-6 at the interval.
Evans returned from the sin-bin but Leicester continued to dominate the opening exchanges of the second half, with their pack taking control of the match.
A succession of forward drives saw Genge force his way over from close range with a conversion from Burns giving his side a healthy 12-point advantage.
It immediately got worse for Bristol from the restart when Woodward was adjudged to have impeded Graham Kitchener in the air and the centre was yellow-carded.
Burns kicked a third penalty for Leicester before Woodward was able to return as Bristol made seven substitutions in quick succession in an attempt to reverse their fortunes.
With 20 minutes remaining, Leicester brought on Manu Tuilagi but they suffered a blow when replacement Lachlan McCaffrey was sin-binned.
Bristol capitalised when Hawkins scored a close-range try but McCaffrey's return ensured the Tigers held on for victory despite a late penalty from Jarvis which earned his side a bonus point.