Keast hails Worcester effort

Newcastle 16 Worcester 21
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The Independent Online

The Premiership relegation pot, which has been simmering away nicely for the last few weeks, was brought to boiling point by Worcester, who hauled themselves off the bottom of the table with a display of raw passion and unbridled commitment. Their destiny is now in their own hands, as their last match of the season is at home to their fellow strugglers Northampton.

The Premiership relegation pot, which has been simmering away nicely for the last few weeks, was brought to boiling point by Worcester, who hauled themselves off the bottom of the table with a display of raw passion and unbridled commitment. Their destiny is now in their own hands, as their last match of the season is at home to their fellow strugglers Northampton.

Worcester's head coach, Andy Keast, expressed more relief than elation, saying: "We stuck to our game plan and the effort of the players was magnificent. Today was about our forwards starving the Newcastle backs, and for the most part they did. The pressure has been on us, and still is, but we've given ourselves one hell of a chance of staying up."

From first to last the Warriors displayed more will to win than the Falcons, who were becalmed for long periods in the first half. If Worcester could have grafted some continuity on to the excellent work by Matt Powell, Dale Rasmussen, Thomas Lombard, Craig Gillies and Ben Hinshelwood - whose tackle on Tom May prevented a near-certain try - they would have been much further in credit at the interval than 8-6.

Newcastle were over-eager, trying to force the play, while a little more patience might have yielded something more. They were ahead when Matt Burke kicked his first penalty and again after his second. But though they then drew level when Corey Harris scored their first try, the best they could do after that was to threaten to take the game away from Worcester late on. The Warriors' implacable defence ensured it would be their day.

Initially Worcester were guilty of some indifferent handling, the wing Giscard Pieters being the most obvious culprit by failing to hang on to a Powell pass that should have resulted in a try in the right corner. But Pieters atoned with a try in the same corner after rapid handling from Lombard, Rasmussen and Thinus Delport.

Newcastle persisted in their over-enthusiasm. In contrast, James Brown's contribution to Worcester's cause, as well as his thoughtful distribution, was to calmly drop two goals and kick a penalty.

And although Newcastle began to play with greater conviction as Worcester tired, a try by the visiting side's captain, the flanker Pat Sanderson, which was converted by Brown's replacement, Tommy Hayes, meant that Burke's late try gave Newcastle only a losing bonus point. They deserved little more.

Newcastle: Tries Harris, Burke; Penalties Burke 2. Worcester: Tries Pieters, Sanderson; Conversion Hayes; Penalty Brown; Drop goals Brown 2.

Newcastle: M Burke; T May, J Noon (capt), M Mayerhofler, M Tait (E Taione, h-t); D Walder, H Charlton (J Grindal, 73) J; D Wilson (G Alvarez Quinones, h-t), A Long (M Thompson, 55), M Ward (Wilson, 69), L Gross (G Parling, 55), S Grimes, C Charvis, C Harris (M McCarthy, 84), P Dowson.

Worcester: T Delport; G Pieters (D O'Leary, h-t), D Rasmussen, T Lombard, B Hinshelwood; J Brown (T Hayes, 70), M Powell (N Cole, 70); T Windo, A van Niekerk (B Daly, 59), N Lyman (S Sparks, 59), P Murphy (A Blaze, 73), C Gillies, S Vaili (B Macleod-Henderson, 80), P Sanderson (capt), D Hickey.

Referee: A Rowden (Berkshire).

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