By Geoff Berkeley 24/03 Updated: 26/03 12:53
Worcester Warriors 19 Newcastle Falcons 9
Geoff Berkeley reports from Sixways
ALEX Grove’s second half try proved the difference as an off-colour Worcester Warriors battled past bottom side Newcastle Falcons at Sixways on Friday night.
A penalty apiece from Andy Goode and Jimmy Gopperth was all to show in a drab first half display, which saw very few try-scoring opportunities.
Warriors tried to up the ante in the second period. And, after trading penalties, they were rewarded as Grove powered over for the match-winning try.
Knowing a win would almost certainly secure a place in the Aviva Premiership for another season, Worcester looked to be showing signs of nerves early on, as they allowed Newcastle to come at them.
And it was the away side who carved out the first try-scoring opportunity. Gopperth kicked through and chased but Miles Benjamin did well to mop up.
It wasn’t long though before the fly half grabbed the first points on the board, as he dispatched a penalty to give Falcons a 3-0 advantage on 13 minutes.
Newcastle’s well organised defence appeared to be getting under Warriors skin as Goode and Shaun Perry continued to opt to kick the ball.
And unable to find their range, the league’s bottom side began to gain more and more territory in the hosts’ half.
Worcester then suffered a blow midway through the first half as the in-form Jake Abbott was hobbled off the field with an injury.
This just added to their woes as Newcastle went on to pin Warriors back.
Perry then attempted to provide some impetus with a darting run. And after the ball was slowly moved forward, Falcons were penalised to leave a Goode to put Warriors back on level terms with five minutes remaining of the half.
Richard Hill would have been hoping for a strong start to the second period, but instead a mistake led to their north east opponents having their first crack at the posts, which Gopperth converted.
But Worcester were quick to respond as Goode added his second penalty of the match.
After Gopperth struck the post at his next attempt, he soon made amends to secure a 9-6 lead for Newcastle on 53 minutes.
Warriors needed a moment of inspiration and got it as Chris Pennell offloaded to Marcel Garvey before the wing sprinted past men to take his side up field. Newcastle were then penalised to allow Goode a chance to level the tie, which he dispatched.
With the crowd getting frustrated, Hill’s men upped the tempo and got their reward on 66 minutes. Blair Cowan and James Percival made powerful breaks before Alex Grove burst through to score. Goode converted from out wide to take a 16-9 lead.
Needing a win to keep their hopes of safety alive, Newcastle came charging back. But they failed to reap the rewards as Gopperth crucially missed his next penalty attempt.
Goode then sealed the tie with a penalty in the final minute and left relegation-threatened Falcons empty handed.
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