Premiership: Bath 16-9 Bristol
|Bath (13) 16|
|Tries: Wilson Pens: Homer 3 Con: Homer|
|Bristol (9) 9|
|Pens: Searle 3|
Bath went top of the Premiership with a scrappy win in the first league derby with Bristol in seven years.
Full-back Tom Homer slotted three penalties and a conversion to add to Jack Wilson's try to earn Todd Blackadder's side four crucial points.
Bristol battled hard, with three penalties from young stand-off Billy Searle earning them a bonus point.
Bath's joy was tempered by the loss of fly-half Rhys Priestland, who limped off in the opening period.
Fellow co-captain Matt Garvey was also left limping, in the second half, although there was some relief for both Bath boss Blackadder and Wales as Taulupe Faletau came through 55 minutes unscathed after injury.
Bristol have now lost all eight games since their return to the Premiership and are seven points adrift of Worcester at the bottom.
It was an arm-wrestle of a local rivalry, with just one Homer penalty adding to the half-time score in front of a record crowd at the Rec.
Wilson's score, the only five-pointer of a hard-fought game, came on the back of wrecking ball running by Matt Banahan and Tom Ellis who cracked the line to feed the winger.
It took until 64 minutes for the first flare-up, but it was a cleanly contested battle with just one sin-binning of Bristol's Jason Woodward.
Bath will lose top spot if either Saracens or Wasps win this weekend.
Bath head coach Tabai Matson told BBC Radio Bristol:
"It's a valuable win for us but our performance was atrocious - I think it would be an injustice if we rolled in on Monday and patted ourselves on the back on what was a pretty ugly game across the board.
"I can't fault the defensive effort, that was outstanding, and there were individual performances, particularly some of the guys who have been missing.
"But as a group we were poor."
Bristol lock Mark Sorensen told BBC Radio Bristol:
"I'm absolutely so disappointed with that accuracy at the end [with the penalty near the Bath line], we couldn't have scripted it better but we couldn't get it Bristol's way.
"I'm so disappointed for the players, coaches and the fans - they've come here on an early winter's night and given their all and we have, we left everything out there.
"Its a tough one to take. I'm fantastically privileged to have played in this game."
Bath: Homer; Atkins, Clark, Banahan, Wilson; Priestland (co-capt), Allinson; Catt, Batty, Palma-Newport, Stooke, Garvey (co-capt.), Ellis, Mercer, Faletau.
Replacements: Dunn, Obano, Lahiff, Grant, Mercer, Homer, Hastings, Tapuai.
Bristol: Williams; Edwards, Woodward, Hurrell, Tovey; Searle, Williams; Traynor, Jones, Ford-Robinson, Evans, Sorenson, Eadie, Robinson, Crane (capt).
Replacements: Hawkins, Bevington, Cortes, Phillips, Fisher, Cliff, Jarvis, Wallace.
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