Diamond's side score five tries in memorable bonus-point win
Van der Merwe marks his return from injury with try
Warriors are facing threat of imminent administration
It was fitting that, in an emotional Sixways swansong, Worcester played as if there would be no tomorrow. In the long term, no one truly knows the debt-ridden Warriors’ fate, but their short-term future is all-but sealed: on Monday at 5pm, they will be suspended by the Rugby Football Union and turfed out of the Premiership. For how long is not known, but there will be no tomorrow.
In the post-match huddle Steve Diamond, Worcester’s director of rugby, confirmed as much, promising his Warriors the mother of all sessions on the Worcester tiles in the Alba pub on Saturday night. Diamond has given his players the week off and, with what is to come in the Alba after a convincing, emotive hammering of Newcastle, that might be for the best.
Diamond also revealed that his squad voted on Friday as to whether to compete in Saturday’s fixture – and that there is no plan for the future.
“Out with a bang, eh?” Diamond said. “We had a vote yesterday and it was virtually unanimous that we played. I gave them the option. There was a big risk, if we are going into suspension on Monday, but they said, to a man, that the loyalty to the club and the pride that they show for the club, that they were determined to play. That performance mirrored that.
"We have a real passionate workforce who care about their job and about Worcester - and that's what I'd be looking at if I were an investor.
"There's no plan. They go away. The building isn't insured from 5pm on Monday so we're not allowed to train or use the gym. The caretaker and his wife have to find accommodation from Monday night as they're residents on site. They've got to be chucked out of there."
It was fitting, too, that, although their minds were elsewhere on Saturday, the Falcons were the visitors to Sixways, poignantly bookending the Warriors’ Premiership narrative. Eighteen years ago, Newcastle rolled into town for Worcester’s first Premiership match, with a bloke called Jonny Wilkinson inspiring the victory in front of 8,000 fans.
That capacity was never reached at Sixways on Saturday – owing to the reduced capacity inside the ground – but they were just as proud as on that day in 2004. “We’re not sure when we’ll get to do this again – so it had better be good,” was the stadium announcer’s rallying cry as the sides emerged from the tunnel. From then, until the 80th minute, the home fans were phenomenally cacophonous, with their customary 65th minute ovation the highlight. Any slight positive for Worcester – no matter how minimal – was cheered as if it was the winning drop-goal in the Premiership final. Hopefully, one day, it will be.
What more could be said or written about these Warriors – of mind and matter – who have fought so fervently and feverishly in the face of such adversity, repaying their fans with a victory that they will never forget? The overriding sentiment at Sixways among the supporters was sadness mixed with exasperation – along with pride. None, however, could quite believe how it had come to this, with the concrete shell of Sixways now ready to lie dormant on the outskirts of Worcester.
“Wanted: a village for two idiots,” read the sign in the stands which would later be confiscated by a steward. The identity of those two “idiots” remains a mystery. On an unrelated note, Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham, Worcester’s co-owners, were accused of lying in the House of Commons on Thursday, with local MP Robin Walker voicing his “personal revulsion” at their behaviour as the club sleep-walks towards administration and, perhaps, oblivion.
Worcester had heroes everywhere: Billy Searle had one of his most assured games; Joe Batley will not struggle to find another club should it all turn sour; Duhan van der Merwe was a handful; and Curtis Langdon was everywhere, the hooker’s Premiership magnum opus.
Newcastle – who would have been within their rights to refuse to play with any accrued points likely to be scrubbed off on Monday – started the brighter. The Falcons’ hooker and captain, George McGuigan, continued his untouchable try-scoring record – both in the calendar year and the start of this season – by bagging the game’s opener from the back of a driving maul.
From there, however, it went pear-shaped for the visitors. “We were poor. Not a version of ourselves that we can be proud of,” was the summation of Dave Walder, Newcastle’s head coach.
As the Falcons slipped, Worcester grew, bulwarked by the visceral intensity of the crowd. Searle started to swagger, too; the fly-half was the architect for Worcester’s opening two scores where he first put Alex Hearle under the sticks before a gorgeous cut-out pass sent Van der Merwe over for Worcester’s second. Searle’s penalty just before half-time, with Newcastle creaking at the scrum, gave the Warriors a 10-point lead at the break.
And that Warrior spirit simply never died. Newcastle threw the kitchen sink at the Warriors just after half-time, but the hosts never buckled. Instead, they kicked on, with Searle adding the first points of the half from the tee after a breakdown indiscretion.
Worcester stretched their lead when Hearle broke down the right, followed by Venter puncturing the Falcons’ heart. The centre fed Gareth Simpson inside and the scrum-half was under the sticks. No sooner had Van der Merwe had a second try ruled out than Matt Kvesic had barged over to put the result beyond doubt. Kvesic was at it again moments later, too, as his midfield bust set up Batley for the game’s – and Sixways’ – final score.
Enjoy those beers, lads. You deserve them
Scoring sequence: : 0-5 McGuigan try, 5-5 Hearle try, 7-5 Searle con, 12-5 Van der Merwe try, 15-5 Searle pen, 18-5 Searle pen, 23-5 Simpson try, 25-5 Searle con, 30-5 Kvesic try, 32-5 Searle con, 37-5 Batley try, 39-5 Searle con. H-T: 15-5
Worcester starting XV: J Shillcock; A Hearle (Heward 70), O Lawrence, F Venter (capt) (Morris 72), D van der Merwe; B Searle, G Simpson (Chudley 72); M McCallum (Owen 73), C Langdon (Faiva 66), J Tyack (Owlett 73), J Batley, A Kitchener (G Kitchener 66), F Lee-Warner, C Neild (Kvesic 62), T Dodd.
Newcastle starting XV: A Tait (Penny 62); A Radwan, B Stevenson, G Wacokecoke, M Carreras; B Connon (Schoeman 62), C Nordli-Kelemeti (Barton 70); P Brantingham (Brocklebank 41), G McGuigan (capt) (Maddison 69), T Davison (Tampin 69), G Peterson (Merrick 52), S de Chaves, S Robinson, C Collett (Blamire 58), C Chick. Yellow card: Nordli-Kelemeti 29
Referee: A Leal
Worcester Warriors v Newcastle Falcons: as it happened
Their potential swansong...
FT: Worcester 39 Newcastle 5
What a moment and what a performance!
I have no words....
78 min: Worcester 39 Newcastle 5
A party atmosphere here at Sixways!
Matt Kvesic is able to burst through the hole and Joe Batley charges on his outside shoulder to cross the line.
76 min: Worcester 32 Newcastle 5
We are into the last four minutes of the match here at Sixways.
The hosts are crossing in midfield but unfortunately the penalty does not find touch and Worcester will have to come back.
73 min: Worcester 32 Newcastle 5
You feel the hosts are really enjoying themselves now!
As they attack the 22 once more, you feel Newcastle have given up at this point.
70 min: Worcester 32 Newcastle 5
Worcester know how to turn it on now.
Gareth Simpson delays the pass in the 22 and Matt Kvesic crashes through and over the line!
Billy Searle adds the two!
Worcester fans are you dreaming?
68 min: Worcester 25 Newcastle 5
Oh dear, what have you done van der Merwe!
The winger flies over the line but looking back, he puts a foot in touch at the last moment as he dives over the line.
You felt like he didn't need to take the extra step but he does and it'll be brought back for a lineout.
68 min: Worcester 25 Newcastle 5
In all that madness, what a brilliant moment we just had at Sixways, as the supporters get on their feet to cheer on the staff and players on the 65th minute.
Acknowledging, Worcester staff only receiving 65% of their pay.
Worcester lineout now on the Newcastle ten.
66 min: Worcester 25 Newcastle 5
What a performance from Worcester!
And what a line from the Worcester captain. He crashes through the Newcastle defence and Simpson is on his shoulder and dives under the posts!
Conversion added and the lead grows further!
63 min: Worcester 18 Newcastle 5
The TMO are looking for a possible collision in the air
As Venter looks to have possibly left a foreman in the face of Tom Penny.
But referee Adam Leal waves it much to the delight of the home fans.
61 min: Worcester 18 Newcastle 5
Penalty for the hosts and Searle goes for the posts.
The hosts have soaked up all that early pressure so effectively and now they lead by 13 at Sixways.
Billy Searle makes it look so easy and slots it in!
59 min: Worcester 15 Newcastle 5
Worcester are afforded a lineout on the Newcastle's ten metre.
Venter carries hard into the 22 and unfortunately he runs out of room on the far side
So, it will be the visitors who have the throw in.
57 min: Worcester 15 Newcastle 5
Bit of kick chase here at Sixways after Newcastle strip Worcester captain Venter of the ball.
So it is back with the hosts.
Simpson then goes to the skies!
54 min: Worcester 15 Newcastle 5
Newcastle have it around half-way but are being forced back by some stern defence from the hosts.
And then an offside from Newcastle means it will be a penalty for Worcester.
Billy Searle kicks it out of play on the 22.
52 min: Worcester 15 Newcastle 5
Adam Radwan attempts to take the high ball in the corner but he knocks on and flies through mid-air.
However, Newcastle have an advantage and the visitors will go to the line out.
51 min: Worcester 15 Newcastle 5
A change of fortunes for Newcastle at the scrum and they are awarded a penalty.
To the corner they go and now the visitors attack
49 min: Worcester 15 Newcastle 5
A big moment here at Sixways!
Newcastle are not great at the maul this time, it is not clean and the hosts hold it up!
They will feed the scrum on their own 5-metre line.
47 min: Worcester 15 Newcastle 5
What a run from Adam Radwan.
He scoots around the outside and takes play into the Worcester half.
They then win a penalty and go to the corner.
44 min: Worcester 15 Newcastle 5
More knock ons.
Falcons spill and this time it's a scrum penalty to Worcester!
Lots of whistle at scrum-time.
Billy Searle moves play to within a few metres of the 22..
42 min: Worcester 15 Newcastle 5
Scrum for Worcester as the ball hits the deck from the restart
41 min: Worcester 15 Newcastle 5
Back in play at Sixways
The first half in pictures
HT: Worcester 15 Newcastle 5
What a big moment for Worcester!
They go into the half with a ten point lead over Newcastle.
Can they hang on and produce a stunning win at Sixways?
40+1 min: Worcester 15 Newcastle 5
The visitors think they're over.
However, the referee takes it upstairs to have a look.
40 min: Worcester 15 Newcastle 5
The visitors have another penalty and yet again it's another driving maul!
39 min: Worcester 15 Newcastle 5
Newcastle are going through the phrases here and are able to work through to the 22 before they are awarded a penalty.
And we go into the corner.
The visitors will have final chance for a driving maul.
36 min: Worcester 15 Newcastle 5
And Searle makes it.
Worcester lead by ten.
35 min: Worcester 12 Newcastle 5
Another scrum penalty goes the way of Worcester.
The hosts certainly have the upper hand in that aspect.
Searle going for the posts.
34 min: Worcester 12 Newcastle 5
Yet again, another line out is stolen from the visitors.
But a knock on from Newcastle lets them off the hook
32 min: Worcester 12 Newcastle 5
Worcester throw goes wrong and Newcastle are finally able to clear .
That is a clear chance missed from the hosts.
The man of the moment
29 min: Worcester 12 Newcastle 5
And it gets better for the hosts.
Gareth Simpson takes a quick tap and his opposite number cannot resist stopping his man and Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti sees yellow
Penalty in the 22 and Warriors back to the corner looking for a third try.
Can Worcester extend their advantage?
25 min: Worcester 12 Newcastle 5
Duhan Van Der Merwe
The winger seems to strolll in after Worcester find so much space out wide
The conversion is missed by Searle but Worcester extend their lead to seven points.
24 min: Worcester 7 Newcastle 5
Just a slight pause here as the TMO are checking at a deliberate knock on in midfield as Worcester look to spread it wide in the 22.
But it appears to be just a knock-on through and a scrum to Worcester in Newcastle's 22.
21 min: Worcester 7 Newcastle 5
What a chance for Worcester!
Hearle ghosts through the Newcastle midfield and Ollie Lawerence is there to take it on but it was a brilliant tackle from Matteo Carreras.
However, the ball goes forward and Newcastle are able to clear but it's another Worcester penalty.
Billy Searle kicks to the 22 line.
19 min: Worcester 7 Newcastle 5
A brilliant box kick from Simpson and it lands right into the five metre channel between Radwan and Tait.
However, the Newcastle pair make a real mess of it and it goes into touch for a Worcester line out.
Unfortunately, the hosts lose it.
The Worcester Warriors fans liked that...
17 min: Worcester 7 Newcastle 5
What a response from the hosts!
Alex Hearle steps around the midfield defenders from a few metres out and goes under the posts!
Billy Searle adds the two and Worcester take the lead!
15 min: Worcester 0 Newcastle 5
Another penalty for the hosts!
And we go back into the corner.
13 min: Worcester 0 Newcastle 5
And the Sixways stadium erupts.
Scrum penalty to Worcester.
Billy Searle kicks play up 22.
Worcester fans certainly enjoyed that!
11 min: Worcester 0 Newcastle 5
Some good play from Worcester, as Ollie Lawerence is able to find some room down the left channel and makes a break for it
Billy Searle is on his right shoulder but a huge tackle comes in on him in the 22 from Alex Tait.
Ball goes to the deck and then a penalty goes against the hosts,
Connon up to half way.
8 min: Worcester 0 Newcastle 5
Finally the hosts get some of the ball!
They win the lineout on half-way and now attack into the Newcastle half
5 min: Worcester 0 Newcastle 5
It all started with another penalty going the visitors the way.
Back into the corner we went and then George McGuigan drove it over and scored from a driving maul.
However, the conversion for Newcastle is sliced wide.
3 min: Worcester 0 Newcastle 0
Sadly, for Worcester its another penalty to their visitors and to the corner they go
However, what a steal from Andrew Kitchener and Simpson box kicks to the ten metre line.
1 min: Worcester 0 Newcastle 0
Penalty to the visitors
On half way, Brett Connon kicks all the way to the five metre line.
Here we go then, we are underway at Sixways!
A few moments ago..
The Worcester Warriors team are doing a lap in front of the East Stand getting a standing ovation!
What a wonderful moment!
Before kick off..
Worcester Warriors : Jamie Shillcock, Alex Hearle, Ollie Lawrence, Francois Venter (captain), Duhan Van Der Merwe, Billy Searle, Gareth Simpson, Murray McCallum, Curtis Langdon, Jay Tyaack, Joe Batley, Andrew Kitchener, Fergus Lee-Warner, Cameron Neild, TomDodd
Reserves: Hame Faiva, Kai Owen, Jack Owlett, Graham Kitchener, Matt Kvesic, Will Chudley, Oli Morris, Noah Heward
Newcaslte Falcons: Alex Tatt, Adam Radwan, Ben Stevenson, George Wacokecoke, Mateo Carreras, Brett Connon, Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, Phil Brantingham. George McGuigan (captain) Trevor Davison, Greg Peterson, Sebastain De Chaves, Sean Robinson, Connor Collett, Callum Chick
Reserves: Charlie Maddison, Adam Brocklebank, Mark Tampin, George Merrick, Jamie Blamire, Josh Barton, Tian Schofeman, Tom Penny
How are we all?
Welcome to Telegraph Sport's live coverage of round three of the Gallagher Premiership clash between Worcester Warriors and Newcastle Falcons at Sixways.
A question many Worcester fans will be asking is there any light at the end of tunnel?
Well, it does not seem like a bright one in all truth but there seems to finally be some sort of conclusion in the ongoing financial crisis at the club.
Following weeks of being told a buyer was in the process of agreeing a deal with the club's owners, Worcester face the real possibility of the club going into administration.
Worcester MP Robin Walker pushed for it on Thursday in parliament, knowing it is the best solution for the club long term.
And then on Friday rumours circulated that administrators had been sent in, but that is not confirmed and remains to be officially announced.
The RFU have told the club they have until 5pm on Monday to provide them with assurances and evidence they can finance themselves for the rest of the 2022/23 season or else they will be suspended from all competition.
The current owners, Jason Whittingham and Colin Goldring, continue to suggest a deal could be struck but now seem to have resigned to the fact administration may well be the best solution for all involved.
But their delay in sorting this situation out could well have scuppered the club's chances of survival and now suspension on Monday seems incredibly likely.
But before all of that, there is a game to be played at Sixways.
This afternoon's game with Newcastle Falcons will be the third match in the space of six days and it could well be the last game this club ever plays at Sixways in the words of Steve Diamond, so why not go out with a bang then?
What happens after today's match is anyone's guess..
Join us before kick off at 3pm.