Planet Rugby

Worcester power past Falcons

25th April 2008 22:17

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Jamie Noon Dale Rasmusssen

Spill Kill: Dale Rasmusssen forces Jamie Noon to cough up possession

Worcester Warriors booked a spot in the final of the European Challenge Cup courtesy of a comfortable 31-16 victory over Newcastle Falcons at Sixways on Friday, with faulty electrics adding to a stop-start affair.

Two tries from Sam Tuitupou helped down Newcastle and sound the curtain call on Jonny Wilkinson's season.

The fly-half will now undergo a shoulder surgery which will see him ruled out of England's forthcoming Tests and the rest of the Falcons' floundering Guinness Premiership campaign.

Once again, Wilkinson and the rest of Newcastle's star-studded backline failed to shine in a game interrupted by a floodlight failure as a hungry Worcester side outmuscled and outthought a lacklustre Falcons pack.

The Warriors' first-half dominance was rewarded with tries for Marcel Garvey and Tuitupou before scores after the break from the New Zealand centre and replacement Tom Wood gave the home side a final berth - at Kingsholm - against the winners of Saturday's clash between Sale and Bath.

Newcastle's acting director of rugby Steve Bates spared no player from Sunday's 53-10 Premiership mauling by Sale with a completely new XV, with Wilkinson passed fit after concussion.

And it was Test rugby's record points-scorer who fizzed a pass out to Toby Flood which gave winger Tom May the opportunity to slot a smoothly-taken drop goal.

The lead though was short-lived as Worcester hit back after eight minutes with Jamie Noon, so often the one dishing out big hits, finally taking a taste of his own medicine.

As the ball was worked down the Newcastle backline, Noon was smashed by opposite number Dale Rasmussen and Garvey was onto the loose ball in a flash, evading one tackle before diving over.

Drahm added the extras and the Australian number ten was then inches away with a drop-goal effort.

Newcastle were on the ropes as Garvey carved through the Falcons defence but he just failed to find fellow wing Miles Benjamin with his offload.

Scrum-half Matt Powell then had a try ruled out by the video referee for a knock-on but the pressure did tell after 22 minutes and again Garvey was at the heart of the action.

The ball was beautifully worked through the Warriors backs before the former Gloucester man's delicate chip allowed centre Tuitupou a simple score - Drahm converting to make it 14-3.

Newcastle's hopes took another blow when Noon had to hobble off after 32 minutes to be replaced by Tim Visser but they did reduce the deficit late in the half with a Wilkinson penalty.

Moments after the break, Drahm restored Worcester's advantage with a penalty after James Grindal infringed before a local power cut saw Sixways plunged into darkness.

After a near 15-minute break in play, Newcastle enjoyed some decent possession and only Sanderson's desperate tackle stopped Visser going over, although Wilkinson pinged over another penalty to make it 17-9.

The second half continued to be a more even affair and after 60 minutes Wilkinson narrowly missed a penalty after Greg Rawlinson had been sin-binned.

But Worcester prevented Newcastle from taking advantage of their numerical superiority by carefully going through the phases.

And their perseverance was rewarded eight minutes from time when replacement Wood finally burrowed over to put pay to any hopes of a Newcastle comeback.

Tuitupou then got his second as again he read Shane Drahm's superb chip to touch down under the posts.

Drahm blotted his copybook late on as his charged down kick allowed Falcons replacement Brent Wilson a simple score but it was too little, too late for Newcastle.

The scorers:

For Worcester Warriors:

Tries: Garvey, Tuitupou 2, Wood

Cons: Drahm 4

Pen: Drahm

Drops:

For Newcastle Falcons:

Try: Wilson

Cons: Wilkinson

Pens: Wilkinson 2

Drop: May

Yellow card(s): Rawlinson (Worcester) - killing the ball, 59

The teams:

Worcester Warriors: 15 Thinus Delport, 14 Marcel Garvey, 13 Dale Rasmussen, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Shane Drahm, 9 Matt Powell, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 Pat Sanderson (c), 6 Drew Hickey, 5 Craig Gillies, 4 Greg Rawlinson, 3 Tevita Taumoepeau, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Tony Windo.

Replacements: 16 Shaun Ruwers, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Will Bowley, 19 Tom Wood, 20 Jonny Arr, 21 Joe Carlisle, 22 Rico Gear.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Tom May, 13 Jamie Noon, 12 Toby Flood, 11 John Rudd, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 James Grindal, 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Ben Woods, 6 Andy Buist, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Andy Perry, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Micky Ward.

Replacements: 16 Andy Long, 17 Jon Golding, 18 Geoff Parling, 19 Russell Winter, 20 Brent Wilson, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Tim Visser.

Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)

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