NEWCASTLE Falcons lurched one step closer to relegation as Scottish centre Alex Grove scored the only try in an otherwise dour Aviva Premiership encounter.
Even the consolation of a losing bonus point eluded them as Andy Goode struck a penalty two minutes from time, and there was no masking the disappointment as an eminently winnable game passed by.
The early signs had looked promising for the visitors as lock James Goode pinched prime line-out ball in Worcester’s 22, and Newcastle’s composed forward play saw them camped in home territory for the bulk of the opening period.
Scrum-half Peter Stringer dictated the tempo on his debut with slick service and crafty kicking in behind, and the patient approach paid dividends as Jimmy Gopperth’s golden boot sent over the first penalty of the evening on 13 minutes.
Territory and risk aversion seemed to be the order of the day in a pragmatic but unadventurous game-plan. Scrum domination was not maximised by sloppy hands further out, but a panicky home side heaped pressure on themselves with repeated scuffs and slices in attempting to clear their lines.
Alex Tait’s charge-down of a Goode punt bounced fortuitously into touch within inches of the left corner post, although a wobbling Newcastle line-out saw them failing to capitalise.
Half-time parity was assured four minutes from the interval as Goode slotted a straightforward penalty from 15 metres out after failure to release the tackled player, and it was more chess than draughts as both teams continued to probe and counter-probe without any real sharpness.
Hopes for a more eventful second half seemed to be growing as Ally Hogg manoeuvred himself brilliantly to claim a turnover from a rolling maul just a minute after the restart, and his craftiness was turned into points as Gopperth drilled over a long-range penalty from the resulting play. The sides were soon level as Goode dinked over a second of his own, and the wound was self-inflicted as Adriaan Fondse needlessly dived over a ruck within seconds of his introduction as a blood replacement.