Leicester Tigers suffered a 41-10 defeat – and a first-half red card for centre Kyle Eastmond – against Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate on Saturday afternoon.
Bristol led 21-10 at half-time with two tries from former Tigers hooker Harry Thacker – the first after just 60 seconds – in a Gallagher Premiership Round 9 fixture.
Manu Tuilagi marked his return from Test duty with a try for Tigers who then lost Eastmond to a 25th-minute red card for a high tackle on Bristol fly-half Ian Madigan.
Bristol added a third try at the start of the second half from wing Luke Morahan and then Harry Randall claimed the bonus-point score for the hosts who moved level in the table with Tigers on 18 points.
Adam Thompstone led the Tigers out of the tunnel in his 150th club appearance, and it was Bears who got the game underway and they were on the scoreboard in just over 60 seconds as Thacker scored against his hometown club.
An inside ball on halfway created the space for Alapati Leiua and, after weaving up to the 22, his simple ball to the right put Thacker in to score, pumping his fist as he ran in to the right of the posts. Madigan added the kick for a seven-point lead.
Tigers had an immediate chance to respond after a Bristol error in front of their own posts, but they shut out Will Spencer and then Sione Kalamafoni before knocking-on as Leiua attempted to intercept on the right.
The scrum brought a free-kick to Tigers and Kalamafoni charged at the line but the viasitors lost possession just 10 metres out.
Bears then burst out in the backline along their right flank, Luke Morahan kicking cleverly down the touchline as Tigers scrambled back and George Ford cleared up.
Madigan made it 10-0 with a penalty following a high tackle from Eastmond on Thacker with 10 minutes elapsed.
From another attack, Will Hurrell was stopped by Tuilagi and, when Tigers were handed a penalty at the breakdown, it was the Tigers centre who celebrated as he claimed his fourth try of the season.
It was Thompstone who carried into the Bristol defence following the lineout on the right and the wing’s clever offload put Tuilagi away, beating one tackler and running in to the right of the posts. Ford’s conversion made it 10-7 on 18 minutes.
Bristol looked to get ball through hands whenever they had possession, while Tigers tried to build from set-piece possession, and the two styles collided when the hosts fumbled in their own half and Tuilagi pounced to claim the ball. Spencer and Thompstone carried forcefully in the 22 but another error gave Morahan a chance to break clear and Ford had to show his pace to cover.
Eastmond’s red card was confirmed after referee Wayne Barnes and TMO checked a hit on Madigan in midfield, with the official checking the point of contact on the replays before judging direct contact with force to the head.
Madigan, who did not need a head injury assessment, kicked the penalty from just short of halfway to make it 13-7.
Moments later, the hosts were also down to 14 men as prop John Afoa was yellow-carded for a no-arms tackle on Jonny May. Ford struck the penalty cleanly from 35 metres to bring it back to 13-10 on the half-hour.
Madigan, though, doubled the advantage with another kick and then Thacker claimed his second try – and fifth in two weeks – though not until the referee had checked the build-up where flanker Steve Luatua went to ground but bounced back up to run in behind the defence and find Thacker to diver over on the right.
This time Madigan pulled his conversion attempt across the posts but his side led 21-10 and there was no further change before the break.
With Bristol back up to their full strength following Afoa’s yellow card, Ford got the second half under way and Tigers introduced Harry Wells in the second row as a replacement for Kitchener.
The opening three minutes were played in the Bristol 22, with Tigers retaining possession, but after then turning over ball on halfway, the home side birst clear and Morahan beat May on the outside to score.
The extras from Madigan made it 28-10 on 45 minutes and the bonus-point score arrived five minutes later when scrum-half Randall took a tap-and-go penalty from 40 metres and had the legs to get to the line first.
Madigan took his tally to 15 points with the conversion as her made it 35-10.
The home crowd were ready to celebrate a fifth when Leiua broke down to the left, but Ford kept up with him and made the tackler just 10 metres out.
Great work from Wells turned defence into attack, with Holmes and Spencer involved as Tigers reached the 22 but a Bristol closed in and forced an error from Genge.
Geordan Murphy changed both props for the scrum, joining Tatafu Polota-Nau who replaced Jake Kerr at the previous stoppage, but they were penalised at the scrum and another whistle followed as Barnes judged that Tuilagi had tackled his man Siale Piutau a fraction before he had claimed the ball. Madigan struck the kick to make it 38-10.
Tigers were whistled for a ruck infringement three minutes later and Madigan took his tally to 21 points with the kick from 40-plus metres.
Matt Toomua replaced Ford on the hour and had the best chance for a consolation score as he first found Thompstone with a cross-kick, then received the return pass but got closed down 15 metres out and could not find support within range for the offload.
Tigers dominated possession in the final quarter but could not find a telling pass in the Bristol 22 as they also had to survive a breakaway as Morahan picked off a long pass from Toomua only for the whistle to blow for obstruction against the home side as Shaun Malton ran away under the posts.
It was Malton, too, who knocked-on in midfield as the clock approached 79 minutes, giving Tigers one last chance before Bristol won ball on the floor and brought the game to a close.
To all the travelling supporters who made the journey to Bristol today, thanks for your support and we hope you have a safe journey home.
Bristol 41 Tigers 10
Tigers with the ball as the clock runs down but Bristol turnover at a ruck and kick to touch to end the game.
Tigers Attack Again
Tigers win a free kick at the scrum and tap and go, running the ball into the Bristol 22.
Bristol with a few phases but they knock-on in a tackle to give Tigers a scrum between the Bristol 10 metre line and their 22.
Tigers with the ball but it goes loose in a tackle and Bristol get a scrum on their 22.
Tigers retain the ball from the lineout and work the phases in the Bristol 22.
Matt Smith replaces Manu Tuilagi.
Tigers with the ball from the lineout and build phases into the Bristol half but Tigers win a penalty for a high tackle, Toomua kicking to touch for a lineout inside the Bristol 22.
Tigers kick for touch but the ball stays in play and Bristol run it back as both sides look to make a break but just as Bristol think they've broken through for another try, the referee calls us back for a penalty for Tigers.
Ben White replaces Ben Youngs
Shaun Melton, Jake Woolmore and Callum Sheedy replace Harry Thacker, Yann Thomas and Siale Piutau.
Just as Tigers are building in the Bristol 22 there's a penalty at the breakdown for Bristol, they look to tap and go getting into the Tigers half before Jonah Holmes makes a huge tackle and Tigers win a penalty.
More loose play
Bristol turnover the ball but kick ahead and Tigers are back with the ball and run it back into the Bristol 22.
Tigers with the ball, a kick across field puts Adam Thomstone in space and he offloads inside to Matt Toomua who is brought down in the Bristol 22.
Bristol turnover the ball as Tigers get into the Bristol half but Tigers quickly turnover again and there's a break by Manu on the wing to put Tigers on the front foot.
Bristol kick for the lineout but the ball doesn't find touch as Adam Thompstone keeps the ball in play and Tigers work the ball back up to the half-way.
Bristol retain the ball in the lineout and as they build a few phases win a penalty at the breakdown and kick for the lineout.
John Afoa is replaced by Lewis Thiede.
Tigers win the ball at the lineout and build phases, working across the pitch and up closer to the Bristol tryline but as we go for a long pass out to the wing the ball goes staight into touch for a Bristol lineout.
Tigers win a penalty at the scrum and kick for the lineout inside the Bristol 22.
Piers O'Conor replaces Will Hurrell.
Loose ball at the restart and there is a knock-on from both sides but Tigers get the penalty outside the Bristol 22.
Matt Toomua is own and replaces George Ford.
Madigan lands the penalty to make it 41-10 after 58 minutes.
Tigers with the restart but are having to defend as Bristol look to run out of their 22, they make it up to half-way before winning a penalty at the breakdown and they point to the posts.
Ed Holmes and Dan Thomas are on to replace Joe Joyce and George Smith.
Ian Madigan lands the penalty to make it 38-10 after 55 minutes.
Mike Fitzgerald replaces Mike Williams.
Tigers look good in defence and look to have forced a knock-on from Bristol but the referee penalises Manu Tuilagi for a tackle off the ball and Bristol point to the posts.
Bristol win a penalty at the scrum and kick for the lineout on Tigers 10 metre line.
Harry Randall is replaced by Andy Uren.
Ficundo Gigena nad Gaston Cortez replace Ellis Genge and Dan Cole
Tigers with the ball as Bristol try to offload in the tackle and build phases and make a break up into the Bristol 22 but there's a forward pass and Bristol have the scrum on their 22.
What a Chase
There's another break from Bristol after the restart but George Ford shows his speed to work back and make the tackle and keep Bristol from scoring.
Tatafu Polota-Nau replaces Jake Kerr
Madigan adds the conversion to make it 33-10 after 50 minutes.
Bristol run the ball back and Jordan Crane is brought down just inside Tigers half, the referee blows for a penalty but Bristol go quick with Harry Randall running through to score.
Tigers get the ball from the lineout and as the maul goes to ground the ball is chipped ahead and Bristol run it back.
Side to Side
Bristol take the ball at the lineout but the ball goes from one side of the pitch to the other before going into touch and Tigers get the lineout just inside our half.
Tigers chase the restart kick and make the tackle but are penalised in at the breakdown, Bristol kick for the lineout on their 22.
Madigan adds the conversion to extend Bristol's lead to 28-10 after 45 minutes.
Tigers take the kick but the ball pops loose and Bristol pass it wide for Morahan on the wing to score.
Tigers with the possession and phases but there's a loose ball in contact and Bristol have the ball, kicking ahead.
Tigers with a lot of the ball from the restart, there's a few chip ahead kicks from both sides but Tigers have the ball and build phases up into the Bristol 22.
Half-time replacement as Harry Wells is now on for Graham Kitchener.
The teams are back out and George Ford kicks-off the second-half.
Bristol 21 Tigers 10
Tigers with the lineout collect the ball and kick it straight into touch for half-time.
Bristol Replacement Reversal
John Afoa returns from the sin-bin and the replacement is reversed between Alapat Leiua and Lewis Thiede.
Tigers get a loose ball in the defence and Jonny May kicks clear up the pitch, Bristol run a few phases before kicking ahead for a lineout in the Tigers 22.
Bristol run and kick ahead from the scrum and Jonah recovers the ball, kicking and chasing it down to keep Bristol in between half-way and our 22 with Tigers defence now being tested.
Tigers with the ball as Bristol return the kick-off, with a few phases there is a chance of a break on the far side but the referee calls us back for a forward pass and Bristol have the scrum just inside their half.
Ian Madigan misses the conversion so the score stays at 21-10 after 35 minutes.
Wayne Barnes checks with the TMO but awards the try to Harry Thacker after a break and offload from Steven Luatua.
There is quick play from the scrum and Bristol work up into Tigers half, there is break and they look to have scored but the referee goes to the TMO.
Lewis Thiede is on to replace Alapati Leiua for the scrum.
Tigers with the restart but there is a knock-on from both sides, Bristol get the scrum on their 10 metre line.
Ian Madigan lands the penalty to make it 16-10 after 32 minutes.
Bristol are on the attack from the restart and with a lineout in Tigers half work into the Tigers 22 where they win a penalty at the breakdown as Tigers go for a turnover. Bristol opt for the kick at goal.
George Ford lands the penalty to make it 13-10 after 28 minutes.
As Tigers look to build phases Bristol's John Afoa is shown a yellow card for a high tackle and Tigers with a penalty point to the posts.
Tigers with the restart and as Bristol kick clear, Ford collects the ball and offloads to Jonah Holmes who breaks through the Bristol defence.
Tigers show good hands with some offloads and work up into the Bristol half.
Ian Madigan lands the penalty to make it 13-7 after 25 minutes.
The TMO has called the referee to check a tackle in the last play by Kyle Eastmond and the referee shows a red card and Bristol has the penalty, they point to the posts.
Bristol go wide from the lineout and in almost a replay of the last action the ball is kicked ahead and Tigers clear for a lineout on the Bristol 10 metre line.
Your Ball, Our Ball
Tigers win a penalty at the scrum and kick for the lineout but doesn't find touch, Bristol run the ball back but there is a loose pass in the midfield and Manu scoops up the ball and Tigers are back on the attack in the Bristol half.
As we build phases there is a knock-on from Tigers and Bristol pass wide, run it up and kick ahead, Tigers clear for the lineout on half-way.
Tigers have the lineout but Bristol steal in the air and run it quickly, they work out to the far wing but there is a knock-on from Bristol as Tigers look to turnover the ball and Tigers get the scrum inside our 22.
Tigers work well and clear from the restart but Bristol push through a kick into the 22 for a Tigers lineout.
George Ford adds the conversion to make it 10-7 after 17 minutes.
Tigers find a break as the ball is passed from the lineout, Adam Thompstone stepping into the defence before offloading in the tackle to Manu Tuilagi on the 22 line and he runs in to score Tigers first points of the afternoon.
Tigers defence holds strong as Bristol look to run wide but are penalised at the breakdown and Tigers kick for the lineout on the Bristol 10 metre line.
Tigers build phases from the scrum, including a chip ahead from Ben Youngs collected by Jonny May and work up to half-way but there is a knock-on on the floor and referee calls for a Bristol scrum.
Tigers kick the restart and Bristol win a penalty at the breakdown, kicking for the lineout on half-way.
Bristol work the ball up to the Tigers 22 but Bristol knock-on for a Tigers scrum on the 22 line.
Ian Madigan lands the kick to make the score 10-0 after 9 minutes.
Bristol work the ball from the lineout and make it back into the Tigers half, as they get up the 22 there is a penalty for a high tackle against Tigers and Bristol point to the posts for the kick.
Tigers kick clear
Tigers with a good scrum and get the ball out to George Ford who makes a huge clearing kick for a lineout in the Bristol half.
Bristol go wide
Bristol get the ball out wide to the wing where Luke Morahan chips the ball through but Bristol knock-on trying to collect the ball for a Tigers scrum inside our 22.
Tigers win a free kick at the scrum and go quickly but there is a loose pass and the referee calls Tigers offside for a Bristol penalty. They kick for the lineout on their 10 metre line.
Tigers kick the restart and Bristol collect the ball but there is a loose pass out to the wing and Jonny May dives on the ball to get possession.
Tigers look to capitalise on the possession in the Bristol 22 and build phases out wide before a pass is knocked down by Bristol for a Tigers scrum.
Bristol add the conversion through Ian Madigan to make it 7-0 after 2 minutes.
Bristol go quick with the lineout and find a gap in the midfield defence, Alapati Leiua making a break and offloading to Harry Thacker who runs in to score the first points of the afternoon.
Tigers take the kick-off and its Ben Youngs who clears to touch for the lineout.
We have Kick-off
It is Bristol and Ian Madigan who kick things off this afternoon.
Here come the teams
Adam Thompstone leads out the Tigers here at Ashton Gate for kick-off as he makes his 150th appearance for Tigers, go well Thommo!
As we approach kick-off you can watch LTTV interviews with Jonny May, Matt Toomua, Dan Cole, George Ford and Ellis Genge as they preview the game here.
Hello And Welcome
Tigers are in Bristol as we visit Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate in the Gallagher Premiership.