Worcester Warriors breathed a huge sigh of relief after holding on for a hard-fought 11-9 victory over Newcastle Falcons at Sixways on Sunday.
Despite a late comeback from Newcastle, Worcester ended their poor run of second halves in the Premiership to move away from the foot of the table, just one point behind their opponents, who picked up a losing bonus point to stay eighth.
The final match of Round Five was the lowest scoring, but certainly one of the most dramatic as Newcastle will rue not getting more from the contest having seen so much of the ball in the opposing 22 and getting themselves back into the match late on.
Newcastle had most of the ball in the early stages but failed to use that to their advantage on the scoreboard with Worcester soaking up the pressure well.
Having been on the back foot for the opening quarter of the contest, they continued their run of good first halves largely thanks to a gift from Newcastle’s Sinoti Sinoti. Dom Waldouck tried his best to keep the ball with the Falcons but lost out and the ball found its way to Tom Heathcote who set up Wynand Oliver to go over. Heathcote was not as precise with his attempted conversion.
Not much later, Mike Delany had a chance to kick Newcastle’s first points of the afternoon, but missed from a relatively simple position before atoning for his error moments after with another kick from the tee.
With the game seemingly headed for near-deadlock going into half time, Heathcote kicked his first points of the match after the hooter to put five points between the sides at the break.
The second half began in similar fashion to how much of the first was played out with neither side able to take advantage of gaining some good positions.
Heathcote was replaced by Ryan Lamb for Worcester as they searched for their first win of the season and to put an end to their second half hoodoo.
The fly-half played his part with an immediate contribution, running through the centre of the pitch before winning a penalty, which he confidently dispatched himself.
Staring down the barrel of defeat, Newcastle made a plethora of changes to their front row, and there was a suggestion it would pay dividends as Delany hit his second penalty of the day to make it a five-point contest once more.
With minutes left on the clock, Newcastle kicked another penalty with just two points separating the sides headed into the final exchanges. The visitors then got a scrum, but the penalty went Worcester?s way and they held out for their first win of the season.
For Worcester Warriors:
Cons: Heathcote, Lamb
For Newcastle Falcons:
Pens: Delaney 2, Hodgson
Worcester: 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Carl Kirwan, 6 Alafoti Faosiliva, 5 Darren Barry, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Na’ama Leleimalefaga, 18 James Johnston, 19 Christian Scotland-Williamson, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Josh Adams
Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Evan Olmstead, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 David Wilson, 19 Will Witty, 20 Daniel Temm, 21 Michael Young, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Belisario Agulla
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Phillip Watters, Kevin Stewart
TMO: Keith Lewis