Warriors produced a performance of real character in adversity to ensure that had some deserved reward from a weekend that challenged them in many ways.

Friday’s postponement because of a severe weather warning meant another overnight stay for the squad and although weather conditions had improved the match started in numbing cold and with a dusting of snow on the Kingston Park pitch.

To further complicate matters Warriors lost Duhan van der Merwe with a sore neck before kick-off and suffered a succession of injuries during the game  – Jamie Shillcock, Gareth Simpson and Marc Thomas – and ended it with flanker Sam Lewis playing the final 90 seconds on the left wing.

Despite all those factors Warriors dug deep and came away with two points from the draw which was secured when Fin Smith calmly  converted Billy Searle’s 76th minute try from the left touchline.

Smith’s accurate kicking proved significant in a game of fine margins. While the England Under-20s international landed all of his kicks – three conversions and a penalty – Joel Hodgson was successful with only two of his for Newcastle.

Newcastle had a chance to win the match in the final minute when Warriors were penalised close to their 22 but Hodgson kicked for touch rather than goal and Falcons turned over possession when they tried to muscle over in the right had corner.

Defeat would have been harsh on Warriors and it says much about the attitude of the side that they came away disappointed that they did not bank two more points with a win.

Although Warriors had to defend doggedly for long periods against a determined Newcastle side who appeared to relish the Baltic conditions, they made the most of their attacking opportunities.

Newcastle scored 12 points while Scott Baldwin was in the sin bin in the first half but Ashley Beck got Warriors back in the match when he crossed right at the end of the first half from a charged-down kick.

Skipper Ted Hill and Gareth Simpson then combined superbly for the second try which was finished from close range by Kyle Hatherell and Searle’s try, from a sweeping counter-attack, came just two minutes after Newcastle had gone ahead.

So there was plenty to warm the Warriors supporters who made the long trek north and who shivered their way through 80 minutes.

The snowy surface made running rugby difficult and the numbing cold also added to the miserable conditions and led to an error-strewn contest.

Newcastle had the first opportunity to get on the scoresheet but Hodgson’s speculative penalty from the halfway line was short and wide.

Instead Warriors took the lead after 15 minutes from their first visit into the home 22 with  Smith landing a well-judged penalty.

The sin-binning of Baldwin, after Warriors were penalised several times in quick succession was punished by Newcastle.

Hooker George McGuigan was driven over after the resulting penalty was kicked to the corner, then England wing Adam Radwan stepped out of a tackle and powered over for a try that Hodgson improved.

But  Warriors played some composed rugby when they were back to a full complement and a period of sustained pressure was rewarded right at the end of the first half when an attempted clearance to touch from Newcastle was charged down and Beck dotted down.

Smith reduced the deficit to two points at the break by again making a difficult kick look easy.

Hatherell’s try, after Hill blasted open the defence and Simpson was hauled down just short, was again converted by Smith from an acute angle but Newcastle drew level when McGuigan was driven over from close range.

Replacement loosehead Kyle Cooper then showed a neat turn of speed to cross for Newcastle’s bonus point try which left Hodgson with a straightforward conversion but Warriors’ response was swift and effective.

Joe Batley made ground and Simpson and Beck combined effectively before Searle finished brilliantly for the try which Smith, showing great composure, converted.

Warriors | 15 Jamie Shillcock (Searle 41), 14 Alex Hearle (Howe 55), 13 Francois Venter (CC), 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Perry Humphreys (Chudley 59), 10 Fin Smith, 9 Gareth Simpson (Lewis 79), 1 Ethan Waller (Thomas 43-60), 2 Scott Baldwin (Annett 60), 3 Jay Tyack (Judge 60), 4 Matt Garvey (Batley 65), 5 Andrew Kitchener, 6 Kyle Hatherell, 7 Ted Hill (CC), 8 Sione Vailanu.

Replacements | 16 Niall Annett, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Joe Batley, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Tom Howe.


15m | Smith pen 0-3
21m | McGuigan try 5-3
25m | Radwan try 10-3
26m | Hodgson con 12-3
39m | Beck try 12-8
40m | Smith con 12-10
48m | Hatherell try 12-15
49m | Smith con 12-17
54m | McGuigan try 17-17
73m | Cooper try 22-17
74m | Hodgson con 24-17
76m | Searle try 24-22
77m | Smith con 24-24