Premiership: Harlequins 21-19 Bristol
|Harlequins (15) 21|
|Tries: Yarde, Marchant Con: Evans Pens: Evans 3|
|Bristol (14) 19|
|Tries: Varndell, Pisi, Edwards Cons: Henson 2|
Bristol's return to the Premiership ended in defeat after Harlequins came from behind to beat them at Twickenham.
Andy Robinson's side, playing their first top-flight game since 2009, got off to a dream start as Tom Varndell and Tusi Pisi tries put them 14-3 up.
However, Quins led by a point at the break through late first-half scores from Marland Yarde and Joe Marchant.
Ryan Edwards crossed as Bristol retook the lead, but two Nick Evans penalties won it for the 2011-12 champions.
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Bristol, who finally won the Championship play-off final last season after four unsuccessful attempts, demonstrated more than enough quality to suggest they will have a competitive campaign back in the top flight.
In a match played in atrocious conditions throughout, they dominated the early stages and were rewarded when wing Varndell latched on to Quins scrum-half Danny Care's wayward pass and ran through unopposed to score.
Samoa international Pisi's quick feet saw him add a second just before the half-hour mark, but Bristol's defence buckled on the stroke of half-time to concede two tries.
Edwards' touchdown just a couple of minutes into the second half following a kick and chase gave Bristol a four-point advantage.
But Quins piled on the pressure from then on and the reliable boot of New Zealand fly-half Evans earned them a narrow victory.
Harlequins director of rugby John Kingston: "There were a crazy number of mistakes. Technically, we got some things really wrong. The thing that pleased me most was the way the group stuck together when they could've got frustrated.
"We were probably playing a bit too deep in the first half, considering the conditions. We found ourselves trying to force things after giving them a couple of easy scores.
"It was a day where you had to catch a ball before you passed it."
Bristol director of rugby Andy Robinson: "When the opposing director of rugby said he thought it was forward pass, how do you think I feel? It's welcome back to the Premiership for me.
"I thought the guys were outstanding and I was really proud, but also disappointed for them. I'm really frustrated.
"We will have to work hard on our discipline because we were the wrong side of the referee. We've got to be more streetwise in what we do, sharper and smarter.
"The important thing is that we put the hits in and throughout there was real commitment from us."
Harlequins: Chisholm; Yarde, Marchant, Roberts, Visser; Evans, Care (capt); Marler, Buchanan, Sinckler, Twomey, Horwill, Robshaw, Wallace, Clifford.
Replacements: Ward, Evans, Collier, Merrick, Luamanu, Dickson, Jackson, Alofa.
Bristol: Wallace; Edwards, Hurrell, Henson, Varndell; Pisi, Cliff; Tonga'uiha, McMillan, Cortes, Phillips, Glynn, Fisher, Lam (capt), Crane.
Replacements: Brooker, Traynor, Perenise, Joyce, Robinson, Eadie, Williams, Mosses.