Premiership: Saracens 27-9 Bristol
|Saracens (3) 27|
|Tries: Du Plessis 2, Ashton, Tompkins Cons: Farrell 2 Pen: Farrell|
|Bristol (9) 9|
|Pens: Henson 3|
Reigning Premiership champions Saracens scored four second-half tries as they came from behind to beat already relegated Bristol and keep alive their renewed hopes of a top-two finish.
Ex-Wales international Gavin Henson's three first-half penalties earned Bristol a surprise half-time lead.
But England wing Chris Ashton went over six minutes after the restart.
Petrus du Plessis, who added a late second, and Nick Tompkins then added two more in the space of three minutes.
The fourth try, right on full time, earned Sarries their extra bonus point for a victory which keeps them just two points behind leaders Wasps, who lost to Harlequins on Friday night, and second-placed Exeter.
That was a nice way for London Irish-bound du Plessis to sign off his Allianz Park career, while former Scotland captain Kelly Brown and South African scrum-half Neil de Kock were playing their last home league games for Saracens before retirement.
England's Owen Farrell ended with a seven-point haul from his three successful kicks in Sarries' first game since from a squad-bonding trip to Barcelona.
British & Irish Lions prop Mako Vunipola took a bang to his knee but boss Mark McCall insists that is fine - adding that he expects to rest players for the climax to the regular season against Wasps next Saturday.
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall:
"It was just a bad performance. We had a good training week this week. The players were back (from Spain) on Monday afternoon. We just played poorly.
"It was a really disappointing performance, especially the first half but also overall. We have certain standards which we aspire to and we fell below those.
"Give Bristol some credit because they really got stuck in. Our excuse maybe was that it was it came a week after the European Champions Cup semi-final, which was a big occasion, and clearly this wasn't as important."
Bristol coach Mark Tainton:
"We put pressure on Saracens and made them make errors. We knew they would come out in the second half and up the tempo and that's what they did.
"The scoreline flattered them in the end - it was a lot closer than that - and that's been the story of our season.
"We told the players to express themselves and to play with pride and they certainly earned the respect of Saracens."
Saracens: Goode, Ashton, Tompkins, Lozowski, Wyles; Farrell (capt), De Kock; M Vunipola, Brits, Koch; Itoje, Kruis; Brown, Burger, B Vunipola.
Replacements: George, Lamositele, Du Plessis, Hamilton, Earl, Wigglesworth, Gallagher, Ellery.
Bristol: Woodward; Edwards, Hurrell, Henson, Tovey; Searle, Mathewson; O'Connell, Jones (capt), Cortes, Phillips, Sorenson, Jeffries, Robinson, Eadie.
Replacements: Crumpton, Ford-Robinson, Glynn, Williams.
Not Used: Dawe, Fenton-Wells, Pisi, Piutau.
Referee: Andrew Jackson (RFU).
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