England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson slotted a late penalty and drop goal as Newcastle snatched a narrow GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP victory over Worcester at Kingston Park.
Wilkinson, who scored all the Falcons’ points, struck twice in the final quarter to overturn a 12-9 deficit.
Wilkinson’s 73rd-minute strike edged the Falcons to victory after Worcester had scored two superb tries through Rico Gear and Miles Benjamin which belied their basement status.
The Warriors were on top for much of the second half and had two key chances ruled out when referee Rob Debney decided the ball had been held up on both occasions.
In the first half, Loki Crichton missed a sixth-minute penalty as Newcastle enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession but had little to show for it except two Wilkinson penalties and they ended the half only just in front after a 29th-minute try from Miles Benjamin.
The Falcons wasted two good chances when they messed up a line-out drive after a Wilkinson penalty to the corner and then spilled the ball close to the corner flag after a strong run by Tim Visser.
Newcastle were scrambling to prevent a try from two determined Worcester drives and each time it ended with the Falcons holding the man up over the line but a text-book move from a scrum ended with Benjamin skating over in the corner for a 5-3 lead.
Wilkinson kicked the second penalty just before the break and then added another just after half-time when Tom Wood failed to roll away the tackle. It seemed Wilkinson had made it 12-5 with a 51st-minute penalty from 45 metres out but, although it looked to have cleared the bar, both touch judges thought otherwise.
Worcester were denied another try when James Grindal got underneath Aleki Lutui but from the scrum five metres out the ball was flashed along the line for another excellent Worcester try by Gear and Crichton converted for Worcester to lead 12-9.
Wilkinson’s 40-metre penalty when Tom May was taken out off the ball levelled the scores at 12-12 but Worcester sensed a win and penned Newcastle in their own 22 until Mathew Tait and Ollie Phillips engineered a break-out and Toby Flood kicked into touch on the Worcester 22.
Worcester survived the first line-out but back came Newcastle and Wilkinson slotted a 73rd-minute drop-goal to edge the Falcons ahead and the home side was able to retain the ball in the closing minutes for a narrow win.