Worcester Warriors blown away at Sixways by Newcastle Falcons

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Worcester Warriors welcomed Newcastle Falcons to Sixways on Saturday afternoon as they looked to register successive wins in the Gallagher Premiership for the first time since September 2020. Additionally, the hosts were also looking to register a first win over the Falcons in five meetings between the two teams. Warriors returned to action after last week’s clash with Gloucester was postponed due to COVID and illness within the camp.

Before the game got underway, Sixways paid tribute to former player Dave Sims, who sadly passed away recently aged 52. Sims had a three-year stint with Worcester having previously spent 12 years as a Gloucester player. A true legend of the sport, who will be deeply missed.

First half woes for Warriors as Heward gets stretchered off just a minute into the opening 40 and it didn’t get much better

The game got underway and with just a minute of the clock it was promptly brought to a halt as Warriors fullback Noah Heward, who was going up to collect a high ball was stretchered off after a nasty-looking clash of heads with Falcons lock Sean Robinson. Heward was replaced by Perry Humphreys and was later up and about on the pitch after the game, thankfully. Heward will now have 2 weeks to recover before his team are in action once again and will enter the return to rugby protocols.

After the restart, it was the visitors who would strike first, and despite the efforts from the Warriors, there was no stopping the league’s top try-scorer as George McGuigan crossed over to open the scoring. McGuigan was on the receiving end of a lovely Falcons offload all but on the Warriors try line. Brett Connon added the extras. 0-7 the visitors lead. Newcastle landed the first and certainly not the last blow in what would ultimately go on to be a very painful afternoon on home turf for Steve Diamond’s men.

Warriors thought they pulled themselves back on level terms minutes later but some last-ditch defence from Falcons defence saw Duhan van der Merwe taken into touch after what looked like a certain try for the home team in the corner. It wasn’t long before the Warriors were asking questions of the Newcastle defence again either as Joe Batley charged down Louis Schreuder’s box kick on his own 22 but was agonisingly stopped short of the Falcons try line and from the resulting ruck, Warriors were adjudged to have knocked the ball on. Big opportunity went begging for the hosts.

With just under 20 minutes left of the first half, the Warriors would finally get themselves on the scoreboard via some tidy looking rugby as they stretched the Falcons defence, playing through the hands of the backs after some hard-hitting pick and go rugby from the forwards at the breakdown which had Newcastle over committing numbers. Perry Humphrey’s on for the injured Heward the man who crossed over for just his second try of the season. Fin Smith unable to add the extra two but the home team seemed as if they had found themselves. Newcastle’s lead cut to just two points. 5-7 Falcons.

That two-point deficit didn’t last long though as the Falcons – after missed tackles from Warriors and some switched off defending – were over the line again as a line break started by Connon and finished by Connon opened up the heart of the Worcester defence. Connon touched down for five under the Worcester posts and then went on to slot the extras. 5-14 now the score and not in favour of the Warriors!

The scoring didn’t stop there for Newcastle and they were not done for the half let alone the game. After a successful 50-22 effort from the visitors had Worcester pinned back in there on half, Falcons were knocking on the door once again and this time it all ended with winger Adam Radwan crossing the Worcester line despite the best efforts of Gareth Simpson and Alex Hearle.

Referee Adam Leal was asked to have a look at a possible Warriors turnover in the build-up to the try but the TMO adjudged Worcester to be off their feet at the ruck before Radwan touched down – no penalty – try was awarded. Connon slotted the extra two points and at halftime and down 21-5, the Warriors had it all to do in the second 40 if they were to take absolutely anything at all from the game!

Climbing the mountain that was always impossible to climb after a first-half showing in which they left it all for themselves to do

The second half started though pretty much as it ended, Newcastle were probing at the Warriors try line after the hosts were pinged for an earlier penalty. Connon went for the corner and when you have one of the best lineouts in the league and specifically Sean Robinson, you couldn’t blame them. Thankfully for Steve Diamond’s men, they held the man up over the line and a goal-line drop-out followed, relieving some pressure if only temporarily.

Warriors did manage to clear their lines via that dropout but ill-discipline at the breakdown gifted Connon the chance to add to the Falcons lead and that he did, splitting the sticks with his penalty which incidentally was the only shot at the posts from either side from the kicking tee outside of conversion attempts on the day. Newcastle’s lead was now 24-5 and Worcester were starting to fade and badly too.

It didn’t get much better after that either as Newcastle would add further to Worcester’s woes as they crossed over for their try bonus point via scrum-half Schreuder. The TMO had a look at a potential rip forward knock-on from Falcons in the build-up to the try but referee Leal and the TMO were both in agreement as they saw no foul play and the try was confirmed.

Warriors defensively asleep and it was as easy as a walk-in for Schreuder. Connon added the two and the Falcons were well on their way to all 5 points. 31-5 Falcons. Worcester dead and buried at this point just weren’t at it at all and a COVID disrupted week of training leading up to the game was certainly showing.

Trevor Davison and Jamie Blamire tries either side of a late consolation show and go try from Warriors skipper Ted Hill put the icing on the cake for Dean Richards side who if you hadn’t of known, you would have guessed were the home team. Not for the support they brought with them to the Midlands but for the simple fact of how easy they had it all afternoon.

Connon, who was outstanding all afternoon converted the Davison and Blamire tries for Falcons. Billy Searle missed the extras on the Ted Hill score and after what looked on paper a very strong Warriors team, the afternoon’s play came to a crashing end for Worcester as Connon ran the clock down on that before mentioned conversion attempt after Blamire’s score.

A 45-10 defeat at Sixways for Warriors, the worse defeat by far under Steve Diamond but far worse, was the performance rather than the scoreline. Credit to the Falcons who travelled well and were fully deserving of their try bonus point win but from a Warriors standpoint, this was a huge blow to what had been an excellent week with a semi-final place booked in the Prem Cup, two new signing’s announced and news of more to follow this coming week and after. That said, after this showing, all that simply has to go to the back of the mind, there’s nothing that could be said to justify how poor it was.

“Embarrassing, I feel for the Worcester Warriors supporter base” – Steve Diamond

Diamond spoke after the game and his immediate thoughts as you expect were with the fans and also on how he will take a share of the blame for this latest Worcester performance. He said

“Totally out of character for them I think but a holy pathetic performance. If I knew the answer why then we would be sitting here with a competitive game on our hands but we didn’t raise ourselves to the challenge in area of the game and Newcastle, who are a hard working, good side came and put us to bed. Embarrassing. I feel for the Worcester supporter base.”

Warriors will now have a wait on their hands until they will be able to right this wrong. A possible meeting with either Cardiff, Toulon or Gloucester is in the offering in the European Challenge Cup but the wait and density of who, what and where it will be is a very complicated one and there are many many outcomes and possibilities if they are to get through as a best runner-up of the pool stage. All should be known next weekend as European rugby makes its return.

As for the league, Worcester travel to Wasps next on April 23rd and if the performance levels do not change then there’s no doubt that they could be in for a long old afternoon at the Coventry Building Society Arena. That said, despite the team having a scheduled week off, that may not be the case after the Newcastle game. Diamond said: “I might be changing my mind about the week off, they might be coming in after that!”

Overall, this was without a doubt the worst performance for a long time from the Warriors and was definitely the worst since the Steve Diamond era began. When asked if so and if he thought it was as well, Diamond added: “Yeah, without a doubt, I’ll put the onus on myself to get them back up to it but inexcusable to perform as a professional like that.”

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