Mark Tainton admits Bristol let themselves down in costly loss to Worcester
Mark Tainton admitted Bristol let themselves down in a crushing defeat in their battle for Aviva Premiership survival.
Bottom club Bristol slumped 41-24 against Worcester at Sixways, and are now seven points behind the Warriors with just five games left, three of which are appointments with title contenders Wasps, Exeter and Saracens.
A return to the Championship after just one season back in English rugby's top flight now looks likely, although there is no intention of throwing the towel in.
Bristol were 10-0 down inside seven minutes, and head coach Tainton said: "If you look at Worcester's early scores, they didn't do an awful lot for them. It was our ill-discipline that allowed them to score the points.
"I don't think the occasion got to the players.
"We fought back throughout the game and right to the very end, trying to play rugby and get a bonus point, but we ended up turning the ball over and they scored another try.
"We are not going to give in. We have made it more difficult for ourselves going forward, but no-one gave us a chance to beat Bath last week, and we turned them over.
"We let ourselves down today and we let the supporters down.
"It's disappointing, but there is no way this team is going to give in until it is mathematically impossible to stay up, and come the Gloucester game (on March 24), we will be fighting for every inch.
"I take my hat off to Worcester. They played very well and put us under a lot of pressure. We were playing catch-up rugby throughout the game."
Bristol skipper Jordan Crane added: "We are willing to fight and scrap for everything. It's not done.
"There is still plenry of rugby to play and plenty of points to play for. We've got to see where we went wrong today and fix those things pretty quickly."
The Warriors had a bonus point secured by half-time following a penalty try, plus touchdowns from outstanding scrum-half Francois Hougaard, lock Will Spencer and wing Bryce Heem, while Ryan Mills added four conversions and a penalty.
Heem added a second touchdown midway through the second period and centre Wynand Olivier posted a sixth try in the final minute.
Bristol's replacement hooker Max Crumpton and wing Tom Varndell claimed consolation scores following full-back Jason Woodward's try - Woodward, Jack Wallace and Gavin Henson each kicked a conversion, with Henson adding a penalty - but Worcester were never seriously troubled.
South African star Hougaard ran the show for Worcester, capitalising repeatedly on woeful Bristol defending as the Warriors delivered arguably their most dominant 40-minute display of the campaign before a second Heem try underlined Worcester's superiority and Olivier rubbed salt into a gaping Bristol wound.
Warriors rugby director Gary Gold said: "By and large, we were very good. We made good decisions at the breakdown, and it was a pleasing day.
"There is some quality in the side, and maybe all these guys really needed was a bit of belief. They are a good team.
"Absolutely, there is still a long way to go, and what Bristol do now is out of out of our control.
"We are still 11th in the league, and we need to continue to improve with five games left."
Gold, meanwhile, plaid tribute to Hougaard, adding: "He was outstanding, but I think he will be the first to admit that he had a great platform provided by the pack.
"He is an X-factor player. He is quite genuinely world-class, and we are very lucky to have him. With world-class players, the bigger the stage, the better they play."