FOUR tries from hooker Max Crumpton, two for scrum half Rhodri Williams and one from Dan Thomas steered Bristol to a bonus point victory over Richmond who had to settle for a late consolation try as the west country side move up to second in the table.
Richmond, the semi-professional outfit, proved in the opening 35 minutes that they could match the skills of the multi-international Bristol until the home side broke the deadlock with two quick converted tries and a penalty for a 17-nil half time advantage.
After victories over league newcomers Hartpury and Cornish Pirates, head coach Pat Lam made eleven changes to his starting line-up while his opposite number, Steve Hill, made four changes after home defeats by Bedford Blues and Ealing Trailfinders.
Bristol looked to make a shaky start, but they created the first opportunity when hooker Max Crumpton charged down and a clearance kick but was stopped five metres short of the line.
The home side then moved the ball across the field where Samoan international David Lemi, who scored three tries at Cornish Pirate last week, was forced into touch short of the line.
Richmond were forced to keep Bristol at bay and were prepared to test Bristol but then saw a Rob Kirby penalty attempt from outwide fade wide of the uprights. When Bristol did get an opportunity to score, Richmond stole the lineout.
Bristol kept the pressure on first though driving maul with Crumpton coming close and then a chip to corner and the waiting arms of Lemi who was quickly taken to ground but Richmond had been offside in front of the posts.
With half time approaching, and the scoreboard still blank, Searle kicks the simple three points before adding the extras to the first try of the half as Williams finishes off a break from Jack Tovey.
This sparked life into the Bristol side and a kick to the corner and the driving lineout powered their way to the line with Crumpton getting the touchdown and Searle adding the conversion to ease the pressure.
The half time team talk in the dressing worked wonders as Williams made a 60-metre break and Richmond were penalised at the tackle. The kick to the corner set-up the drive to the line for a second Crumpton try.
A catch and drive led to Crumpton completing his hat-trick which was quickly followed by a second from Williams with Searle converting both and that of Crumpton’s fourth with ten minutes still to play.
Richmond weren’t prepared to lie down and kept testing the Bristol defence which finally broke with less than two minutes to play with a touchdown outwit from wing Jordan Simpson-Hefft.
But Bristol were to have the last word as replacement back row Dan Thomas, who joined from neighbours Gloucester in the summer, crossed for the home side’s seventh try with Searle’s conversion bringing to the half-century.
Bristol scores – tries: Rhodri Williams 2, Max Crumpton 4, Dan Thomas; cons: Billy Searle 6, pen: Billy Searle
Richmond scores – try: Jordan Simpson-Hefft
Bristol: Mat Protheroe; Ryan Edwards (Luke Morahan, 54), Jack Tovey (Ian Madigan, 66), Alapati Leiua, David Lemi; Billy Searle, Rhodri Williams (Ryan Glynn, 68); Jack O’Connell (Soane Tonga’uiha, 68), Max Crumpton, Nicky Thomas (Alex Giltrow, 52), Joe Batley, Sam Jeffries, Steven Luatua (Dan Thomas, 62), Olly Robinson, Jordan Crane (capt).
Richmond: Rob Kirby (Ben Rath, 41-53, 61); Jono Woodward, Cameron Mitchell, Ronnie McLean, Jordan Simpson-Hefft; Freddie Gabbitass, Jamie Gibbs (Luc Jones, 57); Jeremy Cunnew (Will Goodrick-Clarke, 59), Jason Phipps (Jamie Townsend, 62), Joe Tarrant (Craig Trenier, 43), Will Warden (Tom Sargeant, 59), Alex Humfrey, Jesse Liston (Jake Parker, 57), Jack Allcock, Chris Davies.
Referee: Hamish Smales (RFU) attt: 6509