A strong first half from the Saints set up the first win of the season at newly-promoted Bristol, with Mikey Haywood’s late try sealing the full five points.
A game of two halves, tries from George North, Louis Picamoles, and Ken Pisi in the first half worked Saints up a 22-point lead at the break. Indeed, Saints nearly sealed their bonus point win before the half-time whistle blew but a TMO decision deemed Dylan Hartley to have dropped the ball over the line.
North was first over the line for the visitors, the winger coming off his wing to create and then exploit an overlap after the pack, with Picamoles to the fore, had powered their way into the home 22.
The Frenchman was then himself the beneficiary of the rest of his forwards’ effort, coming up from the bottom of a maul after a quick referral to the trucks.
Stephen Myler added the extras, and then after a Bristol box kick was charged down by Tom Wood shortly afterwards the fly half played a crucial role to set up Saints third score of the afternoon. Myler sent a crossfield kick over to Ken Pisi, the wing handed off his opposite Tom Varndell and cleverly managed to stay in play and get over the line in the corner.
Saints thought the bonus point had come in the 33rd minute after another big drive from the forwards got the ball over the line. The TMO deemed the ball had been dropped over the line, however, and the game went into half time with the score of 3-25 still standing.
Bristol returned to the field with much more attack to their game and Varndell looked sure to score just four minutes in but Ahsee Tuala managed to scramble back and push the Bristol winger into touch.
The home side kept their momentum up and were eventually rewarded when Will Hurrell found a great line through Saints’ defence off the back of a scrum before offloading to Ross McMillan who scored against his old club.
Bristol continued to attack for the next 15 minutes but could not break through Saints’ regrouped defence, and by the time the final quarter arrived the visitors got themselves back on the attack looking for the try bonus point.
It came in the 76th minute as some classy backs play from Saints got them close to the line, creating a three-on-one overlap to put Mikey Haywood over in the corner. Harry Mallinder added the final conversion to bring the final score to 10-32.
BRISTOL Wallace; Edwards, Hurrell, Mosses, Varndell, T Pisi, Cliff; Tonga’uiha, McMillan Cortes, Evans, Glynn, Fisher, Lam (capt), Crane
Subs – Brooker, Traynor, Perenise, Phillips, Robinson, Eadie, Williams, Jarvis
SAINTS Tuala; K Pisi, G Pisi, Burrell, North, Myler, Dickson; Waller, Hartley, Brookes, Lawes, Paterson, Wood (capt), Harrison, Picamoles
Subs – Haywood, Ma’afu, Hill, Dickinson, Gibson, Groom, Mallinder, Foden
4mins SAINTS Pen Myler 0-3
8mins SAINTS Try North 0-8
13mins BRISTOL Pen T Pisi 3-8
15mins SAINTS Try Picamoles Con Myler 3-15
18mins SAINTS Pen Myler 3-18
20mins SAINTS Try K Pisi Con Myler 3-25
HALF-TIME BRISTOL 3 SAINTS 25
49mins BRISTOL Try McMillan Con T Pisi 10-25
60mins SAINTS Miss Pen Myler 10-25
76mins SAINTS Try Haywood Con Mallinder 10-32
FULL-TIME BRISTOL 10 SAINTS 32