Premiership: Bristol 28-20 Worcester Warriors
|Bristol (18) 28|
|Tries: Varndell 3 Cons: Woodward 2 Pens: Woodward 3|
|Worcester (13) 20|
|Tries: Barry, Hammond Cons: Pennell 2 Pens: Shillcock, Pennell|
Tom Varndell scored a hat-trick as Bristol survived an early red card to win their first Premiership game of the season against strugglers Worcester.
After Varndell crossed, Tusi Pisi was sent off for taking Warriors fly-half Jamie Shillcock out in the air.
Darren Barry's try put Warriors ahead for a short time but Varndell's second gave Bristol an 18-13 half-time lead.
Dean Hammond crossed as Worcester got within a point, but Varndell completed his hat-trick shortly after.
The win moves bottom-placed Bristol to within two points of fellow strugglers Worcester, who have lost their last five league matches in a row.
After back-to-back wins in the Challenge Cup for acting head coach Mark Tainton, this was Bristol's first victory in England's top flight since March 2009, following their promotion from the Championship last season.
In front of 16,552 - their biggest crowd of the campaign at Ashton Gate - Pisi's reckless tackle after 14 minutes caused Worcester fly-half Shillcock to be flipped in the air and land on his neck - a challenge which he was unable to return to the field from.
Varndell, who also secured a hat-trick last week against Pau, scored his tries from excellent support lines and is now only one behind the all-time record Premiership try scorer, ex-Sale wing Mark Cueto, on 89 tries.
Bristol acting head coach Mark Tainton:
"To go down to 14 men and show the character and resilience we did was fantastic.
"We are not going to get ahead of ourselves. We are still bottom of the Premiership, but we are a lot closer than we were to Worcester at three o'clock today.
"We hadn't built the game up to be the be-all and end-all, but players aren't silly. They understood what was at stake today. I am delighted with the way they responded.
"Tusi has chased the ball, his eyes are on the ball all the time, he has not got off the ground. Technically, he is below the player's hips, and he has a responsibility to bring the player down, so the referee has made that decision and we will abide by that."
Worcester head coach Carl Hogg:
"I am hugely frustrated. Losing Shillcock was pivotal for us. We lacked direction and shape.
"I didn't think we managed the game. We had plenty of ball, but we looked blunt in attack. When we have got ball in hand, we are normally a threat.
"We have obviously had a bumpy start to the season, but we have a number of significant players coming back who I think will be pivotal to the direction we take."
Bristol: Woodward; Wallace, Hurrell, Pisi, Varndell; Searle, Cliff; Bevington, Hawkins, Cortes, Tuohy, Glynn, Fenton-Wells, Robinson (capt), Eadie.
Replacements: Crumpton, Traynor, Ford-Robinson, Phillips, Sorenson, Williams, Jarvis, Palamo.
Red card: Pisi.
Worcester: Pennell; Hammond, Te'o, Willisom, Vuna; Shillcock, Dowsett; Leleimalefaga, Bregvadze, Schonert, Scotland-Williamson, Barry, Potgieter (capt), Lewis, Faosiliva.
Replacements: Singleton, Bower, Johnston, Spencer, Dowson, de Cothi, Adams, Mills.
Referee: Wayne Barnes.
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