Fiji-born former French centre Virimi Vakatawa scored his first try in the Bristol Bear jumper but went down 23-21 to Harlequins in Round 3 of Premiership Rugby at a rain-soaked Ashton Gate today.
The Harlequins looked more threatening in the opening period after taking an early lead with a penalty from Jarrod Evans in the seventh minute.
Neat off-loads from Evans had captain Alex Dombrandt and Lennox Anyanwu running into space, but the next score still came via another penalty from Evans again making it 6-0 for the Quins.
Evans had another opportunity to kick a penalty, but his side opted for an attacking line-out. It proved the correct call by paying immediate dividends as second row George Hammond forced his way over in the 20th minute to score the first try of the match.
Evans converted and the Quins held a deserved 13-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Bears had not fired a decent shot during that period, but they won two penalties in quick succession which Callum Sheedy kicked to bring them on the scoreboard.
Quins suffered a big blow when flanker Will Evans was shown a yellow card for a deliberate off-side, and Sheedy made no mistake with the resulting penalty.
Sheedy was then instrumental in creating Bristol’s first try in the 34th minute from a scrum near where his well-timed pass sent Benhard Janse van Rensburg through a huge gap before Vakatawa was provided with an easy run-in.
Sheedy, missed the conversion which saw Bristol trail 13-11 at the interval.
Will Evans returned from the sin-bin in time to see Quins turn down a point-blank penalty, but once again the decision proved sound with Hammond crashed over for his second try in the 44th minute and Evans converted to further their lead 20-11.
Bristol’s response was swift down to the alertness of hooker Harry Thacker kicking the ball forward before beating three Quins defenders to the touchdown.
Sheedy converted and Sheedy stepped up to put Bristol in front for the first time with a penalty in the 62nd minute.
However, when Dombrandt was tackled high by Jake Heenan, the Bristol replacement was shown a yellow card and Evans held his nerve to secure the win through a 78th minute penalty.