Newcastle 12 Worcester 17 match report: Dean Ryan sees glimmer of hope as Warriors get a win at last

Worcester finally end 22-match Premiership losing run

kingston park

In Dean Ryan’s time as No 8, chief enforcer and captain of the Newcastle Falcons team that Rob Andrew built, with the help of Sir John Hall’s largesse, he was obliged to sit out the crowning glory of the Premiership title clincher at The Stoop, having been concussed in the penultimate match of that 1997-98 campaign. Back on Tyneside on Sunday, the former Army corporal had the luxury of a clear head to savour a battling victory at the expense of his old club.

Defeat would effectively have sealed the fate of his Worcester Warriors at the foot of the Premiership. Instead, Ryan’s men threw themselves a lifeline in the relegation zone.

A try by winger Josh Drauniniu nine minutes from the end of an otherwise forgettable contest between two fear-ridden sides earned the Warriors their first league win of the season – their first in the top flight in 23 matches, since a home success against Wasps on 1 March last year, and their first on the road since a New Year’s Day win away to Wasps  at the dawn of 2012.

The gap between themselves and their hosts has been cut from 12 points to nine. With four games remaining – Exeter (home), Bath (away), Saracens (away) and Gloucester (home) – they have a maximum of 20 points to play for and the glimmer of a chance of beating the drop.

Asked whether his side could defy the odds – which remain stacked against them – Ryan insisted: “Of course we can. We always knew we had to win this game. We’ve got to win again, get a bonus point somewhere, and take it to the last weekend of the season. A lot of things go weird on the last weekend of the season.

“This gives us life. It would have been a shitty old season if we’d just stumbled through. This group don’t want to do that. They want to fight.”

They had to fight from behind on Sunday after Phil Godman gave the Falcons the lead with a third-minute penalty. The former Scotland fly-half landed two more three-pointers before half-time as the contest descended into a kick fest, with both sides reluctant to take risks and placing the emphasis on defence.

Worcester should have been in front at the interval but, after landing two penalties from long range, their full-back Chris Pennell pushed a third attempt wide and then fly-half Ryan Lamb stepped up to smack one against the right post from sitter range.

Newcastle led 9-6 at the break but Dean Richards’ side were undermined by nerves throughout. They did show promise of sparking into attacking life when George McGuigan, on his 21st birthday, replaced Scott Lawson at hooker and proceeded to punch holes in the opposition with his purposeful running in the loose.

Joel Hodgson also injected some verve after emerging from bench duty to replace Godman but the fledgling fly-half was caught short in defence when Worcester launched an attack on the home 22-metre line with nine minutes left on the clock. Taking a feed from Lamb, replacement centre Andy Symons ghosted past Hodgson with a break on the left before feeding Drauniniu for the vital score in the corner.

Lamb shanked his conversion attempt but it mattered little. After their close calls against Leicester, Harlequins and Wasps, Worcester finally had a win on the Premiership board.

“We’ve got some tough opposition but let’s see what a win does to us,” Ryan said.

The other part of the equation is what the defeat might do for Newcastle. “It might just give us a kick up the bum,” said Richards, their director of rugby, seeking the one possible consolation other than the losing bonus point.

Newcastle: Penalties Godman 4.

Worcester: Try Drauniniu; Penalties Pennell 2, Godman 2.

Newcastle A Tait (J Fitzpatrick, 45);  T Catterick, G Tiesi (capt), D Barnes, S Sinoti;  P Godman (J Hodgson, 63), W Fury (C Pilgrim, 20-31); R Vickers, S Lawson (G McGuigan,  h-t), O Tomaszczyk (S Wilson, 74),  S MacLeod, F McKenzie, M Wilson (M Mayhew, 72), A Saull, C York.

Worcester C Pennell; J Drauniniu, A Grove  (A Symons, 65), R Fatiaki, M Stelling;  R Lamb (I Mieres, 78), J Arr; O Fainga’anuku  (J Schuster, 49), A Creevy (E Shervington, 49), R O’Donnell, J Percival, M Galarza,  M Williams (S Taulava, 55), S Betty (R de Carpentier, 72), J Thomas (capt).

Referee T Wigglesworth (Humberside).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor