Bristol: (33) 57
Tries: Capon, Batley, MacGinty, Heward, Williams, Harding, Bradbury, Lane Cons: MacGinty 6, Janse van Rensburg Pens: MacGinty
Bath: (15) 44
Tries: Cokanasiga, Dunn, De Glanville, Coetzee, Du Toit, Penalty Cons: Russell 3 Pens: Russell 2
Bristol Bears held on to edge a thrilling, free-scoring Premiership derby against rivals Bath, in which both sides earned a bonus point.
Pat Lam's side ran in eight scores, including Rich Lane's game-decider, picking off Finn Russell's speculative kick to put the game beyond doubt.
Bath had to show bottle to fight back after Bristol pulled clear.
They finished with six tries, but Russell's undercooked kick lost them a losing bonus as the Bears pounced.
This was a full-throttle, thrill-a-minute points-fest of a game which banished any thoughts of a tight, tense affair, as the pre-match excitement of a Royal Marines ball delivery from the roof and pitch-side pyrotechnics was more than matched by the on-field action.
It had everything, including beautifully executed skill and precision, bruising physicality, drama with the Television Match Official ruling on a number of try/no try calls, and four sin-binnings - two apiece - as both sides spent a period down to 13 players.
From the first minute this game fizzled with energy, played at a frenzied tempo with quick ruck speed and dynamic football on both sides, and a standard was set when Russell sent a cute dink wide that Cokanasiga turned into points with a sideline-straddling run of brawn and pace inside three minutes.
It was a score which also roused the hosts, they sharpened up their attack with AJ MacGinty ducking and diving with menace, unlocking the Bath defence with a variety of clever plays, and the 26,000-strong crowd responded.
Sin-binnings for Bath's Jaco Coetzee and Louis Schreuder helped, but there there was variety to Bristol's flood of points, from Will Capon and MacGinty dotting down from close range to Joe Batley finishing off a diamond-saw of a linebreak, and Noah Heward crossing after a clever kick to space.
Bath were not quelled, notching when Tom Dunn burrowed over from a classic maul set-up, but James Williams finished off the first-half scoring for the Bears when he ran a peach of a line behind his pack to scoot through a gap and touch down under the posts.
Tries were traded like football stickers in the playground after the break; Bath crossing as Tom de Glanville finished a short side break and Coetzee bashed his way across, while Bristol replied with close-range work of their own from Fitz Harding and Magnus Bradbury.
It was at this point where Bristol's discipline gave the Blue, Black and Whites their hope of a comeback, as Steven Luatua and then Heward spent time in the bin.
Thomas du Toit kept up his prolific form by powering in with Bristol short-handed, while a penalty try came when an offside Heward made a tackle on a try-bound Dunn to bring up a penalty try and practically end his afternoon.
MacGinty and Russell exchanged penalties as the under-the-pump Bears wobbled, yet the clock was against Bath as they dug away.
Trapped in their own end, Russell reached into his bag of magic tricks to deliver a grandstand finish, but could only hand the game on a plate to Bristol as full-back Lane accepted the gift and sparked scenes of celebration and no little relief around a packed Ashton Gate.
Bristol: Lane; Heward, Janse Van Rensburg, Williams, Ibitoye; MacGinty, Randall; Woolmore, Capon, Sinckler, Dun, Batley, Luatua, Harding, Bradbury.
Replacements: Davies, Grahamslaw, Lahiff, Caulfield, Heenan, Marmion, Vakatawa, Naulago.
Sin bin: Luatua (61), Heward (70)
Bath: De Glanville, Cokanasiga, Redpath, Butt, Gallagher; Russell, Schreuder; Schoeman, Dunn, Du Toit, Stooke, Roux, Van Velze, Reid, Coetzee.
Replacements: Annett, Cordwell, Griffin, McNally, Bayliss, Carr-Smith, Bailey, Cloete.
Sin bin: Coetzee (11), Schreuder (19)
Referee: Ian Tempest