Varndell showed his pace to score from long range
Bristol: (13) 13
Pens: Hill 2
Leicester: (10) 26
Tries: Erinle, Varndell
Cons: Burke, J Murphy
Pens: Burke, J Murphy 2
Defending champions Leicester made a winning start to the new season with an emphatic defeat of Bristol on Sunday.
Bristol battled their way to a 13-10 half-time lead thanks to Lee Robinson's try and David Hill's boot, but it was all Leicester after the break.
Johne Murphy nailed a penalty to level the scores before Sam Vesty's drop-goal edged the Tigers ahead.
Tom Varndell raced in from halfway for Leicester's second try and another Murphy kick stretched their advantage.
Both sides were depleted by players away on World Cup duty, but Leicester - with 12 players in France compared to Bristol's four - were the worst hit.
Bristol took advantage early on, and Hill put them in front with a simple penalty on 11 minutes but Leicester went ahead soon after when Vesty fed winger Ayoola Erinle to score under the posts on his competitive debut for the Tigers.
The next try went Bristol's way after full-back Josh Taumalolo broke down the right before feeding the ball back into the middle for winger Robinson to go through three Leicester players and score.
Paul Burke kicked a penalty on 22 minutes to level the scores but a Hill penalty on the stroke of half-time regained the lead for Bristol.
After the break, Murphy, deputising as goalkicker for Burke who was receiving treatment, landed a 45m kick from in front of the posts for his first points for the Tigers with the boot.
Vesty slotted a 35m drop-goal and then Burke put Varndell in from long range.
Murphy converted the try from out wide and stretched the lead further with a penalty from a similar position.
Acting Leicester head coach Richard Cockerill:
"We have not won here in seven years and it is a fantastic start for us. I can't hide my satisfaction with that.
"Bristol are a very good team and I have a huge respect for Richard Hill as a coach for obvious reasons.
"I knew that if we played to our potential and we played tactically the right way then we could certainly get a win.
"The scoreline maybe flattered us a little but the boys controlled the ball exceptionally well. We played in the right areas of the field and we took our chances."
Bristol boss Richard Hill:
"It was very disappointing. It is a very bad start for us. There were lots of errors. We couldn't guarantee set-piece possession and when we did we couldn't keep hold of it.
"The difference was that Leicester did both of these and put pressure on us. We would expect to win this one at home against a virtual Leicester second team.
"We'll have to get a bit better and work harder. We hadn't played well in pre-season so it is not entirely surprising. We are not playing particularly well at the moment and I can't really put my finger on why."
Bristol: Taumalolo, Robinson, Brew, Cox, C. Morgan, Hill, Beveridge, Hilton, Linklater, Crompton, Winters, Llewellyn, Salter, El Abd, Blowers.
Replacements: Fincken, Hobson, Budgett, Phillips, Thomas, Strange, Higgitt.
Leicester: J. Murphy, Erinle, O. Smith, Vesty, Varndell, Burke, F. Murphy, Stankovich, Kayser, White, L. Deacon, Wentzel, Finegan, Abraham, B. Deacon.
Replacements: Davies, Young, Blaze, T. Croft, Laussucq, M. Smith, Cornwell.
Referee: R Maybank (RFU)