Brave Bristol hanging on
Bristol delayed their seemingly-inevitable relegation with a 37-18 bonus-point win over Worcester at the Memorial Stadium.
Last Updated: 29/03/09 7:28pm
Bristol delayed their seemingly-inevitable relegation from the Guinness Premiership with a 37-18 win over Worcester at the Memorial Stadium.
Bristol, still nine-points adrift of the Warriors at the foot of the table, ran in six tries to register only their second win of the season and their first bonus-point success for over a year.
Luke Robinson crossed twice for the hosts with Tom Arscott, Junior Fatiafola, Mariano Sambucetti and a rare Haydn Thomas try sealing the win.
Worcester were left to rue a lacklustre defensive display and only had first-half tries from Dale Rasmussen and Kai Horstmann and eight points from the boot of Willie Walker to show for their efforts.
With their Premiership status hanging by a thread, Bristol took to the field in front of the Sky Sports cameras knowing only a win would do.
Fly-half Ed Barnes missed a golden penalty opportunity to put Bristol ahead on eight minutes, but the former Plymouth schemer made amends just two minutes later by setting up the opening try of the match.
After receiving the ball from Barnes, Arscott bounced off a weak tackle and weaved his way through the static Worcester defence to score under the posts.
With the conversion added, Walker missed the chance to notch the Warriors' first points of the game shortly after and with the visitors at sixes and sevens Bristol struck again.
The dynamic Arscott turned provider this time after a fine initial break from Robinson. The ball was then switched from left to right and Fatialofa finished well in the corner to put Bristol 12-0 ahead.
And on 27 minutes the home fans were on their feet again, Barnes again involved with a pass to David Lemi who made good ground towards the Worcester line.
With the Bristol forwards piling on in support the ball was recycled to Sambucetti, who powered over the line. Barnes was enduring a torrid time with the boot, however, and was off-target with the conversion.
Worcester had offered very little attacking threat in the opening 30 minutes and even when Miles Benjamin crossed the line, the try was disallowed after Alex Grove illegally blocked a tackler off the ball.
There was a moment to cheer for the visitors on the stroke of half-time though - centre Rasmussen holding off three tackles to finish off a swift move.
Walker's superb touchline conversion saw Bristol take a 17-7 lead into the break and the fly-half reduced the deficit to seven points with a well-taken penalty three minutes into the second half.
With the game back in the balance, Worcester managed one of the tries of the season from Horstmann to raise hopes of a second-half revival.
The influential Walker, on loan from Gloucester, started the move inside his own 22 and drove into the Bristol half before feeding Marcel Garvey.
Garvey slalomed past three Bristol players then superbly off-loaded to the supporting Walker, who in turn fed Horstmann, and the Worcester number eight took the ball on the run to finish things off.
Walker squandered the opportunity to level the scores with a missed conversion.
With the game fascinatingly poised Arscott slammed over a drop goal to keep Worcester at arms length and then Robinson ensured Bristol registered their first bonus-point for over a year after going over in the corner.
Another missed conversion from Barnes kept the score at 25-15 before a beautifully worked line-out on 62 minutes saw Roy Winters feed Thomas, who then sprinted down the blindside to cross for only the second Premiership try of his career.
Walker fired over another penalty for the visitors, but this was Bristol's day and they put the gloss on a spirited performance in the dying seconds when Robinson sprinted through for the home side's sixth try of the afternoon.