Bristol score seven as Saints' struggles continue at Ashton Gate
Bristol Bears blew Saints away at Ashton Gate, scoring seven tries on a sobering Tuesday night.
It was a chastening experience for Chris Boyd's side, who suffered a 47-10 defeat, their fifth loss in six games since the Gallagher Premiership restart.
James Grayson had given the black, green and gold an early lead, but it was an uphill struggle in the minutes that followed as the Bears began to run riot.
They scored three times before the clock even struck 20 and though Saints started to get a small grip of the game for a time after that, they lacked threat in the Bears 22.
The men in grey were camped in the Bristol half during the formative stages of the second period, but didn't get any reward until they were reduced to 14 men.
Josh Gillespie scored on his Premiership debut after his side were forced to sacrifice a player after losing two loosehead props to injury.
But Bristol then took over once again, running riot as they added another four tries to their eye-watering tally.
The Bears had started the game with intent and they thought they'd taken the lead early on as Charles Piutau tried to get onto Semi Radradra's grubber, but he couldn't ground the ball.
And Saints were the ones who got the first points on the board soon after as skipper Lewis Ludlam did brilliantly at the breakdown, winning a penalty that Grayson kicked.
But the Bears soon showed their teeth, not just with some silky backs play but in the forwards.
A slick move carried them into the Saints 22 and after a penalty was conceded, the kick went to the corner, allowing Bristol to drive towards the line, with Harry Thacker getting the score.
Callum Sheedy added the extras and he was soon doing so again as Saints got sucked into another dominant maul and Bristol moved the ball wide swiftly for Alapati Leiua to score.
It was already looking likely to be a long night for the men in grey and it was looking even longer when Andy Uren finished off some good work from Thacker and Ben Earl to notch Bristol's third try inside just 18 minutes.
Sheedy converted to make it 21-3 and Bristol should have had the bonus-point score five minutes later, but Thacker butchered it as he took the contact rather than giving it to Radradra who was just a few metres from the line with no man to contend with.
However, you felt Bristol would get plenty more chances to secure the maximum haul.
Saints lost Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi to injury as the prop had to be helped off the field, before Sheedy hit the post with a penalty.
Both sides had chances to put the squeeze on in the opposition 22 just before the break, but defences came out on top to ensure the gap remained at 18 points.
Saints came out with real intent in the second half, putting huge pressure on Bristol close to the home side's posts.
It was penalty after penalty in favour of the away side, but Bristol just continued to hold out, by fair means or foul.
After what felt like an age, Saints finally lost control in the opposition 22, giving away a scrum penalty that allowed a reprieve.
It was immense frustration for the away side, who just could not find a way to puncture the Bears.
Saints' already youthful backline got even younger when Gillespie was introduced for his Premiership debut in place of Taqele Naiyaravoro.
But there was soon another injury issue at loosehead as Nick Auterac was forced off, meaning uncontested scrums and Saints sacrificing skipper Ludlam to reduce them to 14.
However, Saints, who have a history of stepping up with 14 men, actually struck back soon after as Shaun Adendorff made a great break and Gillespie finished a fine move in the corner for his first Premiership try.
Grayson, who had provided the delicate grubber assist for Gillespie, added the extras and the gap was 11 points with little more than 20 minutes to go.
But Bristol's numerical advantage finally told as they worked the ball wide on the right and Luke Morahan sent Chris Vui over for the bonus-point score.
Sheedy converted to make it 28-10 and he got the chance to add the extras from a simpler position soon after as man of the match Earl scored against Saints again.
Piers O'Conor didn't waste much time in adding another as Saints splintered once more, and Sheedy extended the gap to an eye-watering 32 points.
It was to get worse as Sheedy chipped the ball in behind a limping Ryan Olowofela and Morahan was on hand to score.
Sheedy missed the conversion but there was still another eight minutes of the painful encounter remaining.
Henry Taylor kept going for Saints and the scrum-half refused to allow another try as he made a superb try-saving tackle in the corner.
But the game was over as Bristol celebrated their biggest Premiership home win.
As for Saints, they were forced to go back to the drawing board once again ahead of derby day at Leicester Tigers on Sunday.
Bristol Bears: C Piutau (Malins 58); Morahan, Radradra, O'Conor, Leiua (Lloyd 68); Sheedy, Uren (Cook 66); Woolmore (Y Thomas 56), Thacker (Capon 54), Sinckler (McCabe 56); Attwood, Joyce (Luatua 58); Vui, Earl, Hughes (D Thomas 52).
Saints: Freeman; Olowofela, Dingwall (Bird-Tulloch 60), Francis, Naiyaravoro (Gillespie 53); Grayson, James (Taylor 58); Hobbs-Awoyemi (Auterac 27 (Marshall 55)), Haywood, Painter; Moon, Isiekwe (Bean 60); Gibson, Ludlam (c) (Garside 56), Adendorff (Uru 68).
Referee: Tom Foley