Planet Rugby

Warriors climbing out of the mire

16th March 2007 22:33

Share:

Worcester gave their Guinness Premiership survival hopes a colossal boost by fighting back from 6-21 down to stun Newcastle 23-21 at Sixways on Friday.

The Warriors looked down and out at half-time, trailing 21-6 after Falcons scored three converted tries through flanker Ben Woods - who scored two - and hooker Matt Thompson.

But they rallied magnificently as substitute hooker Aleki Lutui claimed two tries before his fellow replacement Gavin Quinnell rumbled over deep into injury time.

Newcastle, though, should have snatched victory with the game's final kick, but fly-half Loki Crichton, who had earlier slotted three conversions, missed a 20-metre penalty from in front of the posts.

As the kick drifted wide, so Worcester started celebrating as they climbed off the Premiership basement for the first time this season.

Worcester are now one point above Northampton, who have two games in hand, with Warriors' league campaign just three matches - against Bristol, London Irish and Saracens - away from its conclusion.

It was a remarkable finale to a nerve-jangling contest, yet Worcester remain in there fighting with renewed hope of staying up.

Worcester made a promising start, moving ahead inside two minutes through a Shane Drahm penalty, but Newcastle hit back to take the lead within 60 seconds of the full-back's strike.

Woods made the most of some abject Worcester defensive work by galloping over from 25 metres, yet Warriors failed to learn their listen, and with Falcons skipper Matt Burke orchestrating Newcastle's attacking game a second score soon followed.

The tackling was again non-existent, and Woods once more proved the beneficiary, powering past some pitifully token defence for his second touchdown that Crichton converted for a 14-3 lead.

Worcester were stunned by Newcastle's quickfire double, and the visitors almost moved out sight 10 minutes before the break when substitute Joe Shaw went for broke but was denied by a stunning Dale Rasmussen tackle.

Rasmussen's colleagues could not follow his example though, and Newcastle added a third score as half-time approached when quickly recycled possession enabled them to work space out wide, allowing Thompson a straightforward score.

Newcastle, winning turnover ball with monotonous regularity, had taken their chances superbly, leaving Worcester with a mountain to climb as they trailed 21-6 at the interval.

Worcester could have expected a fearful dressing room lecture from rugby director John Brain, but it had the desired effect.

They cut the deficit to eight points midway through the third quarter, establishing a sufficiently imposing forward platform that saw Lutui capitalise.

Drahm's conversion gave the Warriors a glimmer of hope, and with Newcastle struggling to recapture their early fluency, Worcester could sense a way back.

Worcester knew it was a case of cutting out errors and staying composed, yet while they enjoyed a territorial edge, Newcastle encountered few problems repelling an often lateral Warriors attacking game.

It proved a different matter though, when Worcester kept possession tight through the forwards.

Lock Craig Gillies won a 68th-minute lineout after Worcester sacrificed a kickable penalty to go for the corner, and skipper Matt Powell's decision reaped its reward when Lutui crashed across for his second touchdown.

Drahm narrowly failed to add the extras, yet the try set up a gripping finale with Warriors only 21-18 adrift.

Lutui looked to have claimed his hat-trick five minutes from time, but referee Martin Fox ruled that a Newcastle defender had got underneath him.

Newcastle could not hold out until the final whistle though, and Quinnell showcased all his raw power to notch a stirring victory, but only after Crichton's last-gasp penalty shocker.

The scorers:

For Worcester:

Tries: Lutui 2, Quinnell

Con: Drahm

Pens: Drahm 2

For Newcastle:

Tries: Woods 2, Thompson

Cons: Crichton 3

Worcester: 15 Shane Drahm, 14 Aisea Havili, 13 Dale Rasmussen, 12 Mark Tucker, 11 Thinus Delport, 10 James Brown, 9 Matt Powell (c), 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 Tom Harding, 6 Drew Hickey, 5 Phil Murphy, 4 Craig Gillies, 3 Tevita Taumoepeau, 2 Chris Fortey, 1 Tony Windo,

Replacements: 16 Darren Morris, 17 Aleki Lutui, 18 Richard Blaze, 19 Gavin Quinnell, 20 Nick Runciman, 21 Dominic Feaunati, 22 Lee Best

Newcastle: 15 Matthew Burke (c), 14 Tom May, 13 James Hoyle, 12 Mark Mayerhofler, 11 John Rudd, 10 Loki Crichton, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Brent Wilson, 7 Ben Woods, 6 Geoff Parling, 5 Jason Oakes, 4 Mark Sorenson, 3 Micky Ward, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Joe McDonnell.

Replacements: 16 Jon Golding, 17 Andy Long, 18 Andy Buist, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Joe Shaw, 21 James Grindal, 22 Tom Dillon.

Referee: Martin Fox

Touch judges: Steve Savage, Bob Mullis

Assessor: Brian Campsall

Television match official: Brian Abrahams

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster vs SaracensMunster vs Saracens Preview
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs ToulonUlster vs Toulon Preview
Scarlets vs LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Preview
Bath vs ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Preview
Montpellier vs GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Preview
Northampton vs OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Preview
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Preview
Castres vs LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Preview
Wasps vs HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Preview
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92 Preview
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Friday , October 24
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Brive vs Zebre18:30
Grenoble vs London IrishGrenoble vs London Irish Preview
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Newcastle19:30
Edinburgh vs LOU Rugby19:45
Saturday , October 25
Bucuresti vs Stade Francais14:00
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs ConnachtExeter vs Connacht Preview
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , October 25
Western Province vs LionsWestern Province vs Lions Preview
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Saturday , October 25
Taranaki vs TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Preview
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
Zebre 24 - 33 Oyonnax
Cardiff Blues 37 - 14 Grenoble
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Lions 50 - 20 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Western Province 31 - 23 Blue BullsWestern Province vs Blue Bulls Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 49 - 30 AucklandTaranaki vs Auckland Report
Manawatu 23 - 18 Southland
Tasman 26 - 6 CanterburyTasman vs Canterbury Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 17
Harlequins 25 - 9 CastresHarlequins vs Castres Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Bordeaux-Begles 13 - 15 EdinburghBordeaux-Begles vs Edinburgh Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615