A classy performance by a young Harlequins team took the Londoners up to the business end of the Guinness Premiership and into fourth place with their fifth win in their past half-dozen league matches.
They had to withstand a few squally moments from Bristol, most notably in the third quarter when Quins were reduced to 14 men after Adrian Jarvis carried the collective can when he was caught off side and was sin-binned. Shortly after his temporary dismissal, Harlequins conceded a penalty try after being adjudged to have collapsed a maul for a third time.
To emerge from that and dominate the rest of the game to the extent that Harlequins did, and running in three more tries to record their fifth such bonus point of the season, was impressive. They had opened affairs with an eighth-minute touchdown by the 20-year-old left wing Charlie Amesbury that jolted Bristol into action.
Bristol dominated position and possession thereafter yet were unable to turn it into points, which accounted for Harlequins managing to stay level with the hosts at half-time. Quins suffered a string of injuries in the second half yet held it together. The forwards withstood everything that the grizzled Bristol veterans could throw at them, and the No 8, Tom Guest, was immense, proving an able ball winner and carrier, complementing the two fine flankers, Chris Robshaw and Will Skinner.
Robshaw took a blow to his face late in the first half and did not re-emerge after the interval, but he did much to remind the 9,764 crowd of his ability on the blindside flank. Scrum-half Danny Care was his usual efficient self. Full-back Mike Brown scored the first of the second-half tries, while centre Jordan Turner-Hall punched holes through the midfield. Dean Richards, the Harlequins director of rugby, said: "When you consider that the average age of the team was in the region of 23 or 24, we are delighted with the result."
Richard Hill, Richards' counterpart at Bristol, was resigned to not finishing in the top six. "The Heineken Cup is now out of the window," he said, "so I can put in some youngsters now and rest some of the old soldiers and get a few niggling injuries sorted."
Richards and Quins can start planning for the next wave of key matches, beginning with Newcastle at The Stoop on Saturday.
Bristol: Tries T Arscott, Penalty; Conversion Barnes; Penalty Barnes. Harlequins: Tries Amesbury, Brown, Botha, Robson; Conversion Jarvis; Penalties Jarvis, Malone.
Bristol: L Arscott; T Arscott, N Brew (G Barden, 77), S Cox, D Lemi; E Barnes (J Strange, 77), S Perry (H Thomas, 77); A Clarke (D Crompton, 65), S Linklater (M Regan, 65), J Hobson, R Winters, N Budgett (S Hohneck, 65), M Salter (capt), A Blowers (I Grieve, 77), D Ward-Smith.
Harlequins: M Brown; S Keogh, D W Barry, J Turner-Hall, C Amesbury (C Malone, 55-60); A Jarvis (C Malone, 69), D Care; C Jones, T Fuga (G Botha, 69), M Ross, O Kohn, G Robson (J Evans, 50-60), C Robshaw (C Hala'ufia, h-t), W Skinner, T Guest (J Evans, 79).
Referee: D Rose (Birmingham).Reuse content