Gloucester Rugby paid the price for an error-strewn and ill-disciplined first half at Ashton Gate as a late fightback fell just short, the Bears hanging on for a 20-17 Premeirship Rugby Cup win.
The Cherry and Whites were undone on the night by a rusty first 40 minutes when it was clear that most of the starting XV were getting their first competitive outing of the season. Certainly the number of handling errors and penalties conceded was way higher than expected.
As a result, the Bears didn’t have to create that much themselves in order to open up a decent lead. A missed lineout led to the Bears’ first score, a catch and drive lineout score from Harry Thacker, while two penalties from Callum Sheedy opened up a 13-0 lead after 21 minutes.
Frustratingly, the Cherry and Whites did create some good openings but contrived to come away empty-handed from the Bristol 22 on several occasions. Finally though, a weaving run from Tom Marshall opened up the defence and Joe Simpson was on hand to take the offload and score.
So Gloucester Rugby were still in touch at half-time, but fell further behind when a phase of scrappy play suddenly saw Bristol find space on the left and left wing Charlie Powell sprinted home to score with Sheedy adding his second conversion for 20-5 lead.
But the Cherry and Whites dug deep, Matt Banahan powered over from close range on the hour mark and Gerbrandt Grobler did likewise with three minutes to go to narrow the gap to 20-17.
With time against them, Gloucester Rugby tried everything to create one last scoring chance but it wasn’t to be.