Dean Richards has credited Newcastle Falcons’ young guns for handing his side the impetus to pull seven points clear of Worcester Warriors at the foot of the Aviva Premiership.
The battle of the league’s bottom two was decided largely by a lightning-quick start from the Falcons, who hogged possession and territory in an irresistible half-hour spell which had them 13-0 up and flying.
For the second week in a row Rory Clegg kicked 100% from the tee, slotting the opening penalty on three minutes after a 40-pass move which had Worcester cut to shreds.
James Fitzpatrick’s interception, Clegg’s line-break and a Carlo del Fava’s charge for the line created the ruck from which Mike Blair scored in the right corner shortly after, Clegg’s touchline conversion and a further penalty from 40 metres out putting them firmly in the driving seat.
Richards said: “I was pleased for a number of reasons. I felt we controlled the game for the first half-hour, although we allowed them back into it through our own impatience and ill-discipline just before half-time.
“If you look at our squad we had 12 players who have come through our academy, and a further eight players injured.
“Some of our younger boys like George McGuigan and Scotty Wilson are just getting better and better, and I have been delighted with what we are producing.
“These guys have been given their chance, and they are taking it. They are driving the club and the team forward.”
A nervous end to the first half had the visitors down to 14 men when Oliver Tomaszczyk was sin-binned inside his own 22, a seven-man scrum defending the try-threat and restricting Worcester to an Ignacio Mieres penalty as they trailed 13-3 at the break.
By this stage the television match official had denied them a potential penalty-try for tripping after the sort of tumble Didier Drogba would be proud of, Richards stating with furrowed brow: “Seeing their player take a dive during that period was a little bit sad and left a sour taste, but on the whole I was pretty happy.”
The second half came nowhere near the first for pace and expansion, Newcastle summoning up all their reserves of defensive grit as Worcester probed through the forwards.
A second Mieres penalty got them within range, and when David Lemi poached a try from a ruck down the left it was game on.
Paul Warwick’s missed conversion and a penalty at the other end for Phil Godman completed the scoring, the Falcons forced to withstand a scrum near their own line as Worcester searched in vain for a winner.
“I’d sooner have five victoriess than two,” said Richards, when asked if he was content with his side’s start to the campaign.
“We felt we could have had more from this run of games and, while we are satisfied to a point, we are not really happy.
“I could be in Dean Ryan’s shoes at Worcester and have no wins at all, but I just feel there were more points to be had than we have got so far.”
NEWCASTLE FALCONS: A Tait, N Cato, A Powell, J Fitzpatrick, T Catterick, R Clegg (P Godman, 71), M Blair (W Fury, 71); R Vickers (F Montanella, 47-66)), M Thompson (G McGuigan, 47), O Tomaszczyk (S Wilson, 61), C del Fava (S Tomes, 74), D Barrow, M Wilson, W Welch (captain, C York 43), A Hogg.
Falcons scorers – Tries: M Blair. Conversions: R Clegg. Penalties: R Clegg 2, P Godman.
Sin-bin: O Tomaszczyk (35 mins).
WORCESTER WARRIORS: C Pennell, J Draniniu, R Fatiaki (A Grove, 19), J Matavesi, D Lemi, I Mieres (P Warwick, 53), P Hodgson (J Su’a, 47); J Becasseau (G Porter, 53), E Shervington (C Brooker, 53), E Murray (J Andress, 57), M Williams, C Jones, J Thomas (captain), J Abbott, S Taulava (C Goodhue, 47).
Worcester scorers – Tries: D Lemi. Penalties: I Mieres 2.
Referee: M Fox. Attendance: 6,415.