By Sam Bytheway
Bristol Bears set a club record for consecutive Premiership victories with a win over Harlequins at Ashton Gate.
Two first-half Luke Morahan tries and one from Chris Vui set the Bears on the way to victory.
Harlequins kept themselves in the game with tries from Aaron Morris and Gabriel Ibitoye but the Bears held on.
The win was the Bears fifth in a row and keeps them third in the Premiership
Bristol started the game perfectly after a jinking run from Charles Piutau put Steven Luatua into space, with the New Zealander pulling off an audacious offload into the arms of Morahan who strode down the wing to score with just 47 seconds on the clock.
Quins responded with a Brett Herron penalty to open the visitors scoring, before Callum Sheedy added one of his own minutes later.
After Bristol’s strong start, Quins started to pressure the Bristol line and they were rewarded with their first try of the match. From a five-metre scrum, Danny Care broke right before finding Morris who picked the gap created to cross the line.
But the home side responded almost immediately when a grubber kick through from Piutau was half claimed by Henry Purdy. Brett Herron tried his hardest to prevent the score, however his efforts to knock the ball out of Purdy’s hands couldn’t stop the try, with Morahan pouncing on the loose ball for his second of the game.
Sheedy added a second Bears penalty, but their lead was extended even more soon after with a third try.
After several penalties in quick succession, the home side found themselves with a line-out on Quins five metre line. An inside ball from John Afoa nearly sent hooker Will Capon into score, under pressure Capon managed to keep the ball in play with an outlandish offload and one phase on they had the try, with Chris Vui barging over for his second try in two weeks.
Before the break, Henry Purdy was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on, but the Bears held on to keep the score 25-8 at half-time.
The Bears extended their lead with a penalty from Callum Sheedy, but the introduction of Marcus Smith ignited the attacking threat of Harlequins.
Quins twice had chances to force themselves over the line, first an offload from Gabriel Ibitoye couldn’t find the hands of Morris. And then a looping pass from Danny Care was intercepted by Charles Piutau and with his clearance kick, the extended period of pressure was quashed.
Harlequins eventually did add their second try of the game when some simple hands from the visitors backs allowed Ibitoye to stroll in the corner for his fifth Premiership try of the season.
Both sides pushed for bonus points, and it was Harlequins who got the closest when Alex Dombrandt thought he’d scored in the corner, but Francis Saili’s pass was judged forward and Bristol Bears held on to record yet another victory.
Bristol Bears: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Alapati Leiua, 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Henry Purdy 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall; 1 Yann Thomas, 2 Will Capon, 3 John Afoa, 4 Joe Joyce, 5 Chris Vui, 6 Steven Luatua (c), 7 Dan Thomas, 8 Nathan Hughes.
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Mat Protheroe.
Harlequins: 15. Aaron Morris, 14. Luke Northmore, 13. Tom Penny, 12. Paul Lasike, 11. Gabriel Ibitoye, 10. Brett Herron, 9. Danny Care; 1. Mark Lambert, 2. Scott Baldwin, 3. Simon Kerrod, 4. Glen Young, 5. Matt Symons, 6. James Chisholm, 7. Chris Robshaw (c), 8. Alex Dombrandt.
Replacements: 16. Jack Musk, 17. Nick Auterac, 18. Will Collier, 19. Tevita Cavubati, 20. Will Evans, 21. Niall Saunders, 22. Marcus Smith, 23. Francis Saili.