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Crisis club Worcester romp to bonus-point thrashing of Newcastle

By PA
(Photo by PA)

Worcester put aside their off-field issues to romp to a 39-5 bonus-point thrashing of Newcastle in a game the crisis-hit Warriors were treating as possibly their last at Sixways. Warriors have until early Monday evening to provide the Rugby Football Union with assurances over financing and insurance, with the risk of suspension and full removal from all leagues hanging over them.

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There may yet be an eleventh-hour rescue package, but all Warriors fans can do now is wait and hope. Yet despite the threat of this encounter being the club’s Gallagher Premiership swansong, head coach Steve Diamond extracted a heroic display from players who completely outgunned a hapless Newcastle outfit five tries to one.

Everywhere you looked it was impossible to escape the reality that the day was about so much more than the game – and for the saddest reasons. There have been weeks of doubt over the future of the club since HM Revenue and Customs issued a winding-up petition over an unpaid £6million tax bill, with the Warriors burdened by debts totalling more than £25m.

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Owners Jason Whittingham and Colin Goldring are still to announce positive action and have until close of business on Monday to convince the RFU that they have a credible plan to continue. Such a backdrop rendered the on-field business secondary but to their credit, the Warriors players held nothing back.

They fell behind to an early pushover try by Falcons hooker George McGuigan – his fourth of the season – but went 7-5 ahead when wing Alex Hearle sliced through a gap to touch down in the 17th minute. The hosts held the upper hand for the rest of the first half and deservedly extended their lead with a second try just before the half-hour mark.

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Lions wing Duhan van der Merwe supplied it, squeezing in at the corner from a beautifully weighted miss pass from outside-half Billy Searle. After an encouraging start that yielded McGuigan’s try, the Falcons were disjointed and sluggish up to the interval, with Searle’s 36th-minute penalty building Worcester a 15-5 lead.

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The visitors began the second half with a sustained period of pressure, but the scrambling commitment of the Worcester defence underlined their dogged mindset. In the 62nd minute, Searle’s second penalty extended the Warriors’ lead as Newcastle’s brief resurgence fizzled out.

The outcome was assured moments later when, after an incisive straight-angle burst by centre Francois Venter, scrum-half Gareth Simpson scampered clear to score beneath the posts. But the Warriors were not finished. As Newcastle tired, replacement flanker Matt Kvesic claimed the bonus-point score in the 70th minute.

There were then high fives galore among the home players when lock Joe Batley went clear for try number five just before the final whistle, after which the players made a lap of honour to thank the supporters.

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