GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP: Bristol 21 Worcester 22
Worcester Warriors director of rugby Mike Ruddock praised his side's character after seeing them hold their nerve to claim a tense victory over Bristol.
In the final game at the Memorial Ground before a two-year redevelopment plan, Warriors' second row Craig Gillies was required to charge down a last-gasp Jason Strange drop-goal attempt to secure the win.
And Sixways chief Ruddock was delighted with his players, who ran in three tries without reply. He said: "You could argue that it was a victory for the try against the penalty goal.
"There were three great tries from us but, in fairness to Bristol, they pressed us really hard, especially in the second half, and created some good opportunities themselves.
"Some resolute defence - we showed plenty of passion and pride too - gave us that little bit extra when the chips were down. That sort of character shone through.
"Starting with a few youngsters worked out great for us because it meant we had plenty of experience on the bench to bring on and give us a position from where we could go on and win the game.'
Kiwi duo Sam Tuitupou and Rico Gear added tries to Miles Benjamin's fourth-minute opener - the exciting wing's 13th score of an impressive campaign - while Japan-bound fly half Shane Drahm climbed off the bench to slot a vital penalty and conversion to seal the result.
The accurate boot of Strange slotted seven penalties from eight attempts to keep Bristol in touch as Worcester were guilty of poor discipline throughout the game.
After Benjamin's opener, which was laid on by young full back Chris Pennell, Bristol took control with Strange punishing the visitors' indiscipline with penalties in the seventh, 12th, 21st and 29th minutes.
However, Ruddock's charges kept themselves in the game with a fine try from Tuitupou, converted by fly half Joey Carlisle, despite being down to 14 men after flanker Tom Wood had been sent to the bin for not retreating 10 yards and then tackling England scrum half Shaun Perry who had taken a quick tap-and-go.
It was a case of more of the same after the break, though, as more Worcester transgressions saw Strange add three further penalties to stretch his side's lead to 21-12 by the 51st minute.
The Worcester team that took to the field in the early stages of this campaign would not have come back from such a deficit, but Ruddock has forged a strong work ethic within his squad and, nowadays, then never know when they are beaten. A minute after Strange had split the posts for the seventh time, Warriors hit back with their third try.
Impressive openside flanker James Collins, playing in place of the rested Pat Sanderson, secured turnover ball at a ruck and scrum half Matt Powell found wing Marcel garvey with a clever cross-kick. Former All Black speedster Gear ran an intelligent loop outside Garvey to receive the scoring pass before Drahm crucially added the tough touchline conversion.
Then, with just eight minutes remaining, Bristol infringed at a scrum and Drahm boomed over a difficult penalty from out wide to put Worcester's nose in front.
Despite a late rally from the hosts, including the charged-down drop-goal, Worcester hung on to complete a league double over Bristol.
For Bristol boss Richard Hill, next season's planning is already well under way towards an ultimate aim of restoring Bristol's place at the top of English rugby.
Hill said: "The last five years has included the club finishing ninth in Division One and then champions, 11th in the Premiership and then third last season, which was our highest-ever finish and secured qualification for the Heineken Cup.
"I think we can say the rugby club is back now, and our next five years will be about getting the club back to the top of English rugby."
BRISTOL: Arscott; Robinson, Higgitt, Cox (Brew, 48), Lemi; Strange, Perry (Beveridge, h/t); Hilton (Bracken, 72), Regan (Linklater, 63), Crompton; Sambucetti, Budgett; To'oala (Pennycook, 55) Grieve, Ward-Smith. Replacements: Hohneck, Barnes, Brew.
WORCESTER: Pennell; Benjamin, Gear, Tuitupou, Garvey; Carlisle (Drahm, 50), M Powell (R Powell, 73); Windo (Fortey, 50), Mullan, Taumoepeau (Horsman, 57); Bowley (Rawlinson, 63), Gillies; Wood (Talei, 50), Collins, Hickey. Replacement: Delport.
Referee: A Rowden (RFU).