Mark Tainton hails Tom Varndell but disappointed by Bristol intensity
Bristol head coach Mark Tainton paid tribute to Tom Varndell for breaking the Premiership try scoring record but admitted the achievement was soured by a comprehensive 42-8 defeat at the hands of Harlequins.
Varndell registered the 91st try of his career, putting him ahead of Sale's Mark Cueto at the top of the chart, to help Bristol move within a point of Quins with nearly a quarter of the game gone at Ashton Gate.
But the hosts failed to add to their points tally and Quins ran rampant thereafter as Mark Reddish, Charlie Mulchrone, Matt Hopper and James Chisholm added to Joe Marchant's opening try.
Ruaridh Jackson converted three of the tries and booted two penalties while Tim Swiel added the extras to Chisholm's late score and completed a comprehensive win for the visitors with a last-minute penalty.
To compound Bristol's woes, Varndell was forced off the field shortly after reaching his personal milestone and while Tainton saluted his wing, he was unable to hide his dissatisfaction at how the evening unfolded.
He said: "It's a magnificent effort and I'm delighted for him as it's thoroughly deserved but him leaving the field with a toe injury and our defeat put a dampener on it.
"There is no divine right to win matches and maybe after our (32-26 defeat) at Northampton in our last Premiership game, we thought we were better than we are.
"We started slowly but by half-time we had clawed ourselves back into it but after the interval our intensity wasn't good enough. We didn't win enough possession and individual errors cost us as they didn't have to work too hard for their tries."
Captain Olly Robinson agreed with his coach's assessment as Bristol remained at the foot of the standings.
"It was only a five-point game at half-time and we were well in it but we gave them too much possession and they are a very good attacking side," Robinson said.
"We didn't play very well and they deserved to win but we are still very much in the fight against relegation as we are only a point behind Worcester with eight games to play."
Quins had shown some indifferent form recently but they produced a classy performance to seal a first away win in the Premiership since May 2016.
Director of rugby John Kingston said: "It was still a tough game as they had two or three really strong periods of play but we had the rub of the green with the bounce of the ball at crucial times.
"After their performance at Northampton in defeat, we were under no illusions about the task in hand but we were excellent as we made them look ordinary.
"We should have been further ahead at the interval but it was a wearing down process and we were rewarded in that second half."
Next week, Quins have a tough assignment against Bath.
Kingston added: "It hasn't been all plain sailing this season but we've won eight out of 14 games. They are in fourth position in the league and that is where we aspire to be as we want to finish in the top four and win the Anglo-Welsh Cup as we are disappointed to be out of Europe."