Newcastle beat Bristol but second-half struggles frustrate Dean Richards
Newcastle survived a massive fight-back to beat Bristol 19-14 but director of rugby Dean Richards was left frustrated after watching his team leave the door open for their opponents.
Victory assures Newcastle of a place in the top half of the table while increasing Bristol's fears of a swift return to championship.
But the manner of the result was not convincing as Newcastle threatened to squander a 19-0 half-time lead, given to them by tries from Juan Pablo Socino, skipper Will Welch and Joel Hodgson, plus two Mike Delany conversions.
Bristol dominated after the break, scoring tries through Jon Fisher and Mitch Eadie, both converted by Adrian Jarvis, and Newcastle were hanging on at the end.
Richards said: "If you'd asked me 15 minutes before kick off would I take a 19-14 win the answer would have been yes, but I'm sitting here now slightly frustrated and so is the team.
"We're in the top half of the Premiership with three wins and a couple of losing bonus points but we do have a lot of injuries to key players and were a little frustrated rather than happy.
"We played so well in the first half and could have scored two or three more tries and we could have done with those in the second half because we took our foot off the gas.
"They had two chances and took them both and our kicking went off a little and that was probably the root cause of the problem. I never thought we would ever lose but we could well have thrown it away."
Meanwhile, Bristol remain relegation favourites after failing to register a win in their first six games.
"I thought we started reasonably well," said director of rugby Andy Robinson. "But we lost our discipline and it was a bit of an own goal when Newcastle scored their first try and that gave them the momentum.
"In the second half, we started to get up off the line, made our tackles and gained momentum. We scored two really good tries but unfortunately just could not keep that momentum going.
"That second half was pleasing in that it proved we do have the talent to succeed in the Premiership.
" We did some good things here today and in the opening game of the season, but we wanted at least one win from the first six games of the season and we're frustrated we haven't done that.
"We have enough games to get the winning habit. It's tough in the Premiership but we will come good as we did in the second half today."