Yet another injury to Jonny Wilkinson soured a remarkable comeback by Newcastle at Kingston Park as the Falcons beat Worcester Warriors 20-19.
Substitute Tim Visser scored a last minute try as the home side made late pressure tell in the GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP clash.
A first-half breakaway try by Marcel Garvey and Shane Drahm’s boot looked to have put the visitors out of sight but the Falcons rallied late on.
Wilkinson had to be helped from the pitch six minutes into the second half. He received treatment on his right knee after being caught at the bottom of a ruck.
Worcester started strongly and after passing up an earlier penalty to kick for the corner, Drahm put the Warriors 3-0 up on 13 minutes as the hosts were penalised for not releasing just inside the Warriors half.
The Falcons hit back with a penalty for deliberate obstruction inside the 22 just to the left side of the posts but play had barely restarted when the hosts were guilty of holding on again and Drahm slotted a straight penalty from 30 yards out.
Newcastle pressed for the game’s opening try but Wilkinson’s loose pass was punished as Warriors winger Garvey picked up the ball and ran under the posts from inside his own half. Drahm easily added the conversion to make the score 13-3 after 24 minutes.
Newcastle immediately went on the attack and the home crowd thought the Falcons had scored a try but centre Jamie Noon was penalised for a double movement as he crossed the line.
The hosts’ frustration was compounded when John Brain’s side advanced upfield and added another Drahm penalty from in front of the posts.
Newcastle were lucky not to be further behind as referee Tony Spreadbury pulled play back from the home side’s line.
John Fletcher’s side sought a way back into the game but despite playing the more fluent rugby the Falcons trailed 16-3 at half-time.
Newcastle made three half time changes but they made little immediate impact.
Five minutes into the second half the stadium fell silent as Wilkinson failed to get up and he was replaced by debutant Visser.
The visitors seized the impetus with several minutes of pressure on Newcastle’s line leading to another Drahm penalty.
The Falcons hit back straight away as Tom May went over in the right corner but Toby Flood missed the conversation from out wide to leave the hosts trailing 19-8.
Newcastle piled on the pressure and their cause was helped as substitute Chris Horsman was sin-binned in the 64th minute.
They desperately sought a way through as substitute Kai Horstmann was also shown a yellow card. Eventually pressure told and Robbie Morris crashed over to the left of the posts. Flood converted to reduce Worcester’s lead to four points.
Worcester desperately trailed to hang on but Visser broke their hearts at the death.