Paul Gustard rued Harlequins’ sluggish start after watching his side slip to a disappointing 28-15 Gallagher Premiership Rugby defeat to Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate.

Having arrived at the ground 30 minutes late, Quins soon found themselves behind when Luke Morahan crossed the whitewash for the hosts within 50 seconds of the kick off.

A second Morahan try, along with 10 points from the boot of Callum Sheedy, helped the Bears open up a comfortable 25-8 lead at the break after Aaron Morris hit back for Quins.

And despite Gabriel Ibitoye adding a second for the visitors late on, Bristol eased to their fifth straight league win – leaving Gustard to bemoan his side’s silly mistakes.

The Harlequins head of rugby said: “We conceded cheaply early doors after a brilliant offload from Steven Luatua down the right wing, we made a defensive error there.

“It was a soft try to concede so early in the game and the next one we exposed ourselves in the backfield while the third one was a brilliant offload that they managed to recover and dot down.

“We had three or four offloads 10 metres from their line but none went to hand, or we were pulled back for a forward pass or a knock on, and we weren’t able to convert those chances.

“For me, particularly in the second half, we had 65 per cent possession and 59 per cent territory in their final third but we only had one try to show for it so we weren’t clinical enough.

“We weren’t accurate enough with our attack and when you play a team like Bristol, a dangerous attacking team, we defended outstanding but we made one mistake like we did early doors and you concede.”

Quins came into the contest off the back of a hard-fought win over league leaders Exeter Chiefs and Gustard was frustrated his side was unable to replicate their set-piece dominance.

“Collectively we weren’t quite accurate enough,” he added. “There was some outstanding individual performances and the effort on the most part was outstanding.

“But we got done for a forward pass or we knocked it on in contact or we made a poor decision at set-piece time, we got turned over at the setpiece.

“As good as the set-piece was last week, it was almost the polar opposite [against Bears]. We were under pressure a bit at scrum time, we lost two or three critical lineouts.

“And that can affect you because for the most part I don’t think as a coaching group, as a playing group we feel like we’re 28-15 losers apart from the sick feeling in our stomach.”