|Bristol Bears (21) 40|
|Tries: Lloyd, Hughes, Byrne, D Thomas, Thacker, Penalty try Cons: Sheedy 4|
|Leicester Tigers (3) 3|
Bristol Bears kept their Premiership play-off hopes alive with a convincing bonus-point victory against Leicester.
Six tries against a hapless Tigers moved them level on points with fourth-placed Sale going into the final round of the regular season on Sunday.
Ioan Lloyd, Nathan Hughes and Bryan Byrne all crossed before the break with Dan Thomas securing the bonus point for Bears early in the second half.
Harry Thacker added a fifth before a penalty try for the sixth at the end.
The result means only two points separate the four sides placed second to fifth in the Premiership with a match to play.
Fifth-placed Bristol will need to better the results of at least one of Bath, Wasps and Sale on Sunday to book their place in the semi-finals.
The European Challenge Cup finalists will travel to London Irish, while Sale host Worcester, Bath travel to Saracens and Wasps entertain leaders Exeter.
After having to wait until 17 minutes in to breach Leicester’s defence, it was more or less one-way traffic at Ashton Gate once Welsh full-back Lloyd had sold the Tigers back line with a neat dummy from Callum Sheedy’s pass.
England number eight Hughes added the second after picking up at the back of a scrum and charging over from close range, while hooker Byrne capitalised shortly after Ben White was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on.
Tigers had little more to shout about after the break when back row Thomas dotted down at the end of a catch and drive line-out before former Tiger Thacker notched his fourth score in six appearances against his former employers.
Harry Simmons also saw yellow in additional time as his knock-on denied Niyi Adeolokun a score in the corner and referee Craig Maxwell-Keys awarded a penalty try.
Leicester’s defeat means they have gone winless on the road in the Premiership this season.
The only blemish for Bristol on the night was the sight of prop Max Lahiff hobbling off with a calf injury only minutes after replacing Kyle Sinckler.
Bristol head coach Pal Lam told BBC Radio Bristol:
“It’s job done in the sense of the five points. A good outcome and there were some good performances here and there.
“But ultimately, I’m not completely satisfied in terms of we could’ve been a lot better. We talked about being ruthless in this game, at times we were, but a lot of times we weren’t.
“We had balls turned over and I think nine balls lost in contact and five dropped passes. You can’t control the tempo of the game when it’s stop-start and it’s us making those errors.
“There’s some room for improvement to take into Sunday. It’s about controlling our own performance then.
“We’ll take care of ourselves and then it’ll just be a case of wait and see if it’s good enough to reach the top four.”
Leicester director of rugby Geordan Murphy told BBC Radio Leicester:
“At 7-3, the game was right where we wanted it 25 minutes in, but we gave a penalty away straight from the kick-off.
“They kicked to the corner and we found ourselves 14-3 down and against a side like Bristol, it’s a challenge and difficult to create anything.
“It’s was always going to be difficult to chase a team in these conditions and Bristol punished us every time we made a mistake.
“There were some positive pictures out there and some great defensive sets, but the rolling maul is a difficult thing to stop and certainly discipline is something we need to tighten up.
“We’re early on in our development as a side and wanted to give opportunities to a lot of players in this period and for the new head coach to see what we’ve got.
“We know we are where we are in the league and had it been a relegation dogfight, things may have been very different, but it’s been a very strange year.”
Bristol Bears: Lloyd; Adeolokun, O’Conor, Bedlow, Leiua; Sheedy, Uren; Y Thomas, Byrne, Sinckler, Attwood, Joyce, Luatua (capt), D Thomas, Hughes.
Replacements: Thacker, Lahiff, Woolmore, Holmes, Heenan, Randall, Bates, Radradra.
Leicester Tigers: Steward; Potter, Kelly, Worth, Simmons; Henry, White; Gigena, Kerr, Heyes, Henderson, Enever, Chessum, Wallace, Smith (capt).
Replacements: Mamukashvili, Bower, Leatigaga, Lewis, Coghlan, Van Poortvliet, McPhillips, Williams.
Sin-bin: White (36 mins), Simmons (80 mins).
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys.