Josh Drauniniu’s late try earned Worcester Warriors their first win of the Aviva Premiership season as Dean Ryan’s troops closed the gap on Newcastle Falcons at the bottom of the table.
The match was finely poised at 12-12 heading into the closing stages, with Phil Godman slotting four penalties for the hosts while Warriors’ duo Chris Pennell and Ryan Lamb had picked up two apiece.
But in a rare burst, Andy Symons ran halfway up the pitch before offloading to Drauniniu – handing his side their first victory on the road since New Year’s Day 2012.
The stakes couldn’t have been higher for the Aviva Premiership’s bottom two – a Worcester win would see them claw back vital points on their opponents ahead of the final four-game run-in.
And it was the Falcons drew first blood through fly-half Godman, after a slick move from a lineout saw Andy Saull draw a penalty.
However, Ryan’s men were invited the chance to get back on level terms almost immediately, Rob Vickers’ indiscretion at the scrum allowing Pennell to smash a three-pointer through the posts from 50 metres.
Then the full-back stepped up to the tee once more for another golden kick – this time angled from the right – after Gonzalo Tiesi was penalised for holding on.
It was nip and tuck until the 20th minute when a dose of Falcons scrimmaging handed Godman his second penalty of the match – and the fly-half duly obliged.
And after another spell of attrition, Drauniniu gained vital yards inside Newcastle territory which eventually saw Pennell step up again, but with arguably his easiest chance so far, the 26-year-old missed right.
Instead, it was Godman who edged ahead in the pair’s personal battle with his third penalty of the afternoon.
And when Lamb had a chance to knock through a straight-forward effort from the 22 just before the break, the Worcester fly-half was left holding his head in his hands after the ball cannoned back off the upright.
A tense start to the second half saw Godman and Lamb trade penalties, though replacement Falcons hooker George McGuigan made an instant impact with some incisive running.
Lamb had clearly recovered from his glaring miss in the first half and made it four penalties apiece as more ill-discipline crept into the ranks at the breakdown.
But the Falcons were building a head of steam as the second half wore on with stand-off Joel Hodgson – on the pitch for Godman – opening doors for his side.
However, the match was turned on its head in the last ten minutes when Josh Drauniniu crashed over on the left-hand side after a lung-busting break by replacement Andy Symons.
Lamb could not complete the extras, but Warriors’ hung on in the face of Falcons’ waves of attacks to clinch a confidence-boosting victory.