Newcastle kept alive their slim hopes of Aviva Premiership survival after recovering to claw a 16-16 draw with Worcester at Kingston Park.
Newcastle kept alive their hopes of Premiership survival after recovering from seven points down to draw 16-16 with Worcester at Kingston Park.
Replacement hooker Mike Mayhew grabbed the tie after burrowing his way over from close range – and Jimmy Gopperth supplied the all-important conversion – with just three minutes left on the clock to keep Newcastle in touch of the Warriors.
Shaun Perry's 28th-minute try separated the sides in the first half, with all the other points coming from the boot of pivots, Gopperth and Joe Carlisle.
Having been handed the jersey at the expense of Andy Goode, Carlisle wasted no time in getting the first points on the board, with a fifth minute penalty successfully slotted through the posts.
Carlisle and Gopperth then traded penalties to make it 6-6 before Perry, who has only recently returned from a knee injury, struck from a smart set-piece move.
Newcastle threw everything they had at Worcester's defence in the remainder of the half, but the Warriors stood firm, Samoan centre Dale Rasmussen particularly relishing the physical.
The all-action Perry also summed up the defensive effort when he helped turnover possession a few metres from his own line following a 20-phase move from Newcastle.
Newcastle came out after the break showing real intent and Alex Tait's scything break would have led to a try if only Corne Uys had held onto his offload with the line at his mercy.
A Gopperth penalty did reduce the arrears to four points, but that strike was eventually cancelled when Goode, on as a second-half replacement for Carlisle, was successful with his first kick at goal from 50 metres out.
But Newcastle were determined to have the final say and it was left to Kiwi duo, Mayhew and Gopperth, to ensure they got the draw they deserved.
Pen: Gopperth 3
Pen: Carlisle 2, Goode
Newcastle: 15 Greg Goosen, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Corne Uys, 12 Jamie Helleur, 11 Rikki Sheriffe, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Jordi Pasqualin, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch, 6 Richard Mayhew, 5 Andrew van der Heijden, 4 James Hudson (c), 3 Euan Murray, 2 Joe Graham, 1 Grant Shiells.
Replacements: 16 Michael Mayhew, 17 Ashley Wells, 18 James Hall, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Redford Pennycook, 21 Chris Pilgrim, 22 Jeremy Manning, 23 Luke Eves.
Worcester: 15 Errie Claassens, 14 Marcel Garvey, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Dale Rasmussen (c), 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Joe Carlisle, 9 Shaun Perry, 8 Chris Jones, 7 Jake Abbott, 6 Neil Best, 5 Craig Gillies, 4 James Percival, 3 Tevita Taumoepeau, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 George Porter, 17 Ed Shervington, 18 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 19 Adam Balding, 20 Sam Betty, 21 Ollie Frost, 22 Andy Goode, 23 Chris Pennell.
Referee: Wayne Barnes