Yorkshire Carnegie came within one kick of ending Bristol’s 100 per cent record, but were cruelly denied a stunning victory by Matthew Morgan’s last-gasp conversion.
Wales fly-half Morgan won the match for Bristol with the last kick of the game – sending them back to the top of the Championship table – after Carnegie had led 28-10 after 73 minutes.
At that stage, it had looked as if the visitors were well on course to bring Bristol’s 17-match winning start to the season crashing to a halt.
Such was Carnegie’s dominance throughout that the only time Bristol led in the whole match was with Morgan’s winning kick.
Carnegie had taken the lead when Jonah Holmes slalomed down the left wing for a fine individual try, converted by Harry Leonard. It took Bristol until the stroke of half-time to convert one of their chances, Marco Mama scoring from former Carnegie man Craig Hampson’s pass.
The visitors stormed out of the blocks after half-time, with hooker Jack Walker tearing down the blindside to score from a short line-out, although No 8 Eadie cut the lead to four points from a line-out drive.
But Ben Harris popped a pass to Jarad Williams, who stormed in to grab a third Carnegie try.
Every time the visitors attacked, they looked dangerous before Jon Clarke’s bonus-point-clinching fourth try, which capped a flowing move.
Mama crashed over for Bristol, before David Lemi scored out wide to cut the lead to six points. Bristol have not lost a regular-season game in the Championship since Yorkshire – then known as Leeds – won 28-22 at the Memorial Stadium in December 2013.
It looked as if history was about to repeat itself going into the final play. But, when Chris Jones saw yellow for killing the ball, Bristol kicked to touch and Mitch Eadie was driven over, with Morgan holding his nerve to seal a memorable comeback.
Bristol: A Slowik (A Jarvis 63); T Benvenuti (A Short 77), G Maule, B Mosses, D Lemi (capt); M Morgan, C Hampson (D Peel 52); K Traynor (J Hall 60), R Lawrence (C Brooker 60), A Perenise, I Evans, B Glynn (M Sorenson 60), M Mama, O Robinson (N Koster 52), M Eadie.
Yorkshire Carnegie: C Georgiou; D Doherty, J Clarke, P Lucock, J Holmes; H Leonard, C Pilgrim; B Harris (L Imiolek 68), J Walker (capt; P Nilsen 74), J Tideswell (P Hill 41), M Smith (J Ramshaw 80), C Jones, C Walker, J Bainbridge, J Williams. Unused replacements: J Barnard, M Dudman, O Goss.
Referee: T Wigglesworth.