Planet Rugby

Falcons and Worcester in stalemate

27th December 2008 16:59

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Jamie Noon Newcastle

High Noon: Worcester snuff out a Newcastle attack

Newcastle Falcons put a little distance between themselves and basement-dwellers Bristol after sharing the spoils 16-16 with Worcester Warriors at Kingston Park on Saturday.

The hosts had opened up a 13-3 lead early in the first half on the back a converted Phil Dowson try and a pair of Rory Clegg penalties.

But the Warriors slowly fought their way back into the game and eventually grabbed a share of the spoils when Pat Sanderson crossed, and Eoghan Hickey converted, 11 minutes from full-time.

The Falcons made a bright start despite conceding the first score of the game, a fourth-minute penalty from Hickey.

Clegg, however, levelled matter just three minutes later after a bullocking run by Dowson following on Micky Young's quick free-kick which led to a penalty.

And the home side burst to life with a surging run from Jamie Noon, backed up by several thrusts from Tom May, Tim Visser, John Rudd and Micky Young who was narrowly short of the line with a darting run.

The Falcons did cross soon after with Clegg's instinctive crossfield kick, which would have done Jonny Wilkinson justice, allowing Dowson to pluck it out of the air to score in the corner.

Clegg's 13th minute conversion followed by a penalty five minutes late put Newcastle 13-3 up and in control.

But Hickey trimmed the lead with a 27th-minute penalty and Chris Latham rescued Worcester when he powerfully shrugged off three tackles in his own 22 and rifled the ball downfield where Newcastle were penalised for taking the scrum down and Hickey pushed his shot at goal wide.

He didn't miss, however, when Adam Balding was sin-binned after being trapped at the bottom of a collapsed maul - it was a harsh yellow - and that made it 13-9 in the 33rd minute.

Despite being down to 14 men, Newcastle ended the half still on top with Dowson breaking through only to be tap-tackled by Greg Rawlinson to save a certain try and Clegg came up just short with a long-range penalty.

Clegg was on target from closer range 11 minutes into the second half after Balding had nearly broken through to catch Worcester offside.

It was the signal for a major offensive from the Warriors as they worked the ball through multiple phases only to be knocked back each time by some impressive Falcons tackling.

The hosts then threatened to break the game open when Clegg raced away and it seemed Newcastle must score, but May and Matt Thompson were both held close to the line.

Newcastle then pressured Worcester in conceding a penalty at the scrum but Clegg was wide with the kick at goal in the 64th minute and the young fly-half made a big mistake when he tried to throw the ball into himself close to his own line and lost control of it.

Worcester swept it wide to the left and from a scrum five metres out, Sanderson scrambled over for the try with 11 minutes left and Hickey's conversion levelled the score at 16-16.

Newcastle desperately sought a way through and kept the ball alive for a lung-bursting five minutes of stoppage time, but Latham stepped in, stole it at a ruck and hoofed it into touch to seal the draw.

The scorers:

For Newcastle Falcons:

Tries: Dowson

Cons: Clegg

Pens: Clegg 3

For Worcester Warriors:

Tries: Sanderson

Cons: Hickey

Pens: Hickey

The teams:

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom May, 14 Tim Visser, 13 Jamie Noon, 12 Tane Tu'ipulotu, 11 John Rudd, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Micky Young, 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Brent Wilson, 6 Adam Balding, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 David Wilson, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Jon Golding.

Replacements: 16 Rob Vickers, 17 Carl Hayman, 18 Geoff Parling, 19 Peter Browne, 20 Rob Miller, 21 James Grindal, 22 Steve Jones.

Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Latham, 14 Rico Gear, 13 Dale Rasmussen, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Chris Pennell, 10 Eoghan Hickey, 9 Ryan Powell, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 Pat Sanderson (c), 6 Netani Talei, 5 Craig Gillies, 4 Greg Rawlinson, 3 Chris Horsman, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.

Replacements: 16 Chris Fortey, 17 Tevita Taumoepeau, 18 Will Bowley, 19 Matt Cox, 20 Matt Powell, 21 Joe Carlisle, 22 Hal Luscombe.

Referee: Sean Davey

Touch judges: Paul Emerson, Andy Watson

Assessor: Steve Lander

Television match official: Trevor Parlett

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