Newcastle Falcons 14 - 15 Worcester Warriors

Friday 4 March 2016

Newcastle Falcons had to make do with a losing bonus point after coming within a whisker of Worcester Warriors on Friday night.

Bobby Vickers' late try on his 200th appearance for the club gave a match-winning conversion opportunity, but from wide out and the wind swirling around Kingston Park Stadium, there was to be no such luck as they missed out on a seventh successive home victory.

Newcastle trailed 7-6 at the break despite enjoying the upper hand for most of the opening half, a pair of Andy Goode penalties eclipsed by Dewald Potgieter's converted try in the last minute of the opening 40.

Newcastle started the game strongly, Alex Tait hitting some unselfish running lines as his pack enjoyed front-foot ball against a Worcester side coached by the Falcons' 1998 Premiership title-winning captain, Dean Ryan.

Winning a scrum against the head and also a turnover on their own 22, the home side's eager forward play was putting them in the right areas, Taione Vea instrumental in their early ascendancy in both tight and loose.

The Warriors' defensive wall was conspiring to frustrate Dean Richards' side as they repelled Newcastle's persistent attacking play, but the Falcons finally found an inroad when midfield offside allowed Andy Goode a penalty from the right.

Francois Hougaard's increasing influence on the game was apparent with a kick down the left which forced Nili Latu and Sean Robinson to scurry back and clear, the latter helping Newcastle's much-improved line out.

Goode's second penalty doubled Newcastle's lead on the half hour as the Warriors failed to roll away from a ruck down the right, Heathcote hitting the post with a penalty as Worcester remained on zero.

But that was to change in the final minute of the half, the visitors dumping a kickable penalty into touch and scoring from the line-out when South African flanker Potgieter was driven over.

Heathcote converted for a one point interval advantage, the Scottish international extending his team's lead to four in the second half with a penalty from in front.

That was after the television match official had ruled out Hougaard's claims for a try, Goode's third penalty reducing the arrears back to one as Newcastle bit back.

The tide turned against the home side on the hour mark when a foray down the right delivered a try for Bryce Heem, the winger fending his man and going for the corner as the Warriors went into a six point lead.

It sprang Newcastle's attack into life, Craig Willis emerging from the bench to help create a succession of line breaks as they kept the ball in hand.

That momentum forced Worcester's defence to infringe, three penalties inside their own 22 ending with skipper GJ van Velze's sin binning as the Falcons turned to their attacking line out.

The pressure paid off when Vickers snuck over for a 75th minute try on the night he recorded his double century, but the conversion went wide as they missed out on a seventh successive Kingston Park triumph.

Newcastle Falcons S Hammersley, A Tait, C Harris, A Powell (JP Socino, 73), M Watson, A Goode (C Willis, 62), M Young; R Vickers, S Lawson (G McGuigan, 62), T Vea (K Hatakeyama, 62), M Wilson, S Robinson, W Welch (captain), N Latu (M Botha, 55), A Hogg. Sin bin: M Watson (76). Falcons scorers – Tries: R Vickers. Penalties: A Goode 3.

Worcester Warriors C Pennell, B Heem, W Olivier, R Mills, C Vuna (A Symons, 58), T Heathcote, F Hougaard; V Rapava Ruskin (N Leleimalefaga, 66), J Bregvadze, N Schonert (J Johnston, 71), D O'Callaghan, D Barry, P Dowson, D Potgieter, GJ van Velze (captain). Sin-bin: GJ Van Velze (71). Worcester scorers – Tries: D Potgieter, B Heem. Conversions: T Heathcote. Penalties: T Heathcote.

Referee: W Barnes. Attendance: 6,353.

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