WORCESTER Warriors withstood a late onslaught to secure a hard-fought 31-25 win over crisis club Bristol in their Anglo-Welsh Cup opener at Sixways tonight.

Warriors looked to be cruising at 31-13 up with 15 minutes remaining but were made to work hard for their triumph by the visitors, who scored two late tries.

Max Stelling and Josh Adams both bagged two tries for Warriors as Bristol, who suspended director of rugby Andy Robinson on Thursday, still searched for their first win of the season.

Warriors took the lead in the sixth minute after Bristol centre James Newey spilled a simple-looking pass on the halfway line.

The gleeful Adams pounced on the loose ball to speed unchallenged towards the try-line and fly-half Jamie Shillcock rattled the post with his conversion.

But Bristol made a spirited response with Tom Varndell hauled down just metres short after grabbing the restart.

Bristol won a scrum penalty against the head and, soon after being held up over the line, crossed through Giorgi Nemsadze with Billy Searle converting.

Warriors were driven back at their second scrum and Searle’s 30-metre penalty extended the visitors’ advantage to 10-5.

Andrew Kitchener was penalised for failing to roll away at the breakdown and Searle’s second three-pointer fired Bristol 13-5 in front after 26 minutes.

Warriors finally came to life after half-an-hour and enjoyed multi-phase possession but the visitors defended successfully.

Handling errors continued to deny Warriors the chance to build much-needed momentum as the frustration of the Sixways crowd continued to grow.

However, against the run of play, Warriors grabbed their second try on the stroke of half-time through centre Stelling.

Jackson Willison made a surging run from deep and offloaded to Adams, whose accurate pass sent Stelling away for his first try at Sixways since crossing against Bristol in April 2015.

Shillcock missed the conversion and Warriors headed to the dressing room trailing 13-10.

Warriors came out flying for the second period and, after Bristol hooker Rob Hawkins was shown a yellow card, broke through again.

A diagonal run from Chris Pennell created the try-scoring opportunity and Adams was on hand to slide over in the corner. Shillcock’s conversion put Warriors 17-13 in front.

Bristol were depleted further moments later when full-back Jack Wallace was sin-binned for a tip tackle in midfield.

The visitors then struggled to hold the Worcester tide.

Debutant scrum-half Michael Dowsett spotted a gaping hole in the defence to waltz through for Worcester’s fourth try and Shillcock converted from out wide.

After being disappointingly flat for most of the first half, Warriors had their tails up.

Pennell continued to get Warriors’ backline moving and the hosts notched their fifth try — and best of the match — from Stelling.

The centre collected a long pass and gathered his kick ahead to score in the corner and Shillcock added the extras.

But Bristol hit back. Luke Arscott intercepted a pass from Niall Annett and was hauled down just short of the line by Shillcock.

However, the supporting Wallace touched down and Searle added the conversion.

Bristol kept up the pressure and Varndell broke through for the visitors’ third try to cut the deficit to 31-25 but Searle’s conversion struck the post.

With Warriors reeling, Matt Cox was shown a yellow card for a late tackle but they held on.

Warriors: Pennell; Short, Stelling, Willison (Heathcote 70), Adams; Shillcock, Dowsett (De Cothi 60); Leleimalefaga (Bower 55), Singleton (Annett 60), Johnston (Alo 41), Kitchener, Hewitt (Clegg 75), Potgieter, Taylor, Cox. Replacements not used: Lokotui, Fowles.

Attendance: 6,331.