RFU Premiership: Worcester Warriors 19 Newcastle Falcons 9

Worcester's seventh league win of the season will hopefully be the one that allows them to breathe easy and express themselves for their final four fixtures.

Sixteen points clear of Newcastle at the bottom, with only 20 to play for, Sixways looks assured of hosting top flight rugby for another year. Now Richard Hill's men have to start playing it.

Tactically they were far too conservative for most of the first hour here and while one shouldn't be too sniffy when tension-filled matches degenerate into kick-fests, you buys your relegation battles you takes your chances, there have to be standards.

And in the first half there weren't any, at least not from Worcester. Newcastle kicked everything, first phase, fifth-phase, turnover - everything - and by and large they made some territory.

However, compelled by a lack of field position, Warriors also applied boot to ovoid almost exclusively in that opening period and did so terribly.

When they went for touch they either missed it or stuck the ball straight out, and when they went for distance they simply invited Jimmy Gopperth to pin them back. Which he did.

"We went in with a strategy of trying to play them at their own game but that did not work - quite clearly they were better at it than we were," admitted head coach Richard Hill.

"Without naming names, we did not kick well in the first half. We were pretty lucky to go in level at half-time."

It was no surprise, therefore, that the first 40 minutes produced just two penalty goals, one each for Gopperth and Andy Goode.

Gopperth set his stall out early when he unsuccessfully dropped for goal after just 54 seconds and made it 3-0 on the quarter hour after Worcester were offside in the middle.

Not until the 35th minute did the hosts put half-a-dozen attacking phases together and instantly it paid dividends as James Goode was penalised for not rolling away on James Percival.

Andy Goode stroked over the equalising points and Sixways returned to its uneasy sensation of boredom and irritation only broken by the half-time whistle.

The second half was slightly better, a spectacle it was not but at least the home side started asking questions of Falcons' defence.

Blair Cowan, on as a replacement for Jake Abbott, dragged his team over the gain-line, Alex Grove looked for gaps and Marcel Garvey threatened to exploit them.

And so the game continued to resemble a penalty shoot out as Gopperth and Goode traded two more blows to make it 9-9.

Then, with a quarter of an hour remaining, finally someone showed the gumption to win the match.

Grove slipped his man on halfway, made 30m down the sideline and used Cowan in support. Warriors forwards powered towards the sticks and when Shaun Perry brought play back to the left corner Grove hammered his way over the line.

It was the aspiring Scotland international's second in three games and suggested he is returning to the form that first earned him a call up in 2009.

Goode converted from the touchline and landed a fourth penalty in the last minute to deny Newcastle the loss bonus and given their conservatism they couldn't really argue. They came to edge a nail-biter and no more.

"We leave Sixways without a point and that's devastating," admitted Hill's counterpart Gary Gold.

"One try was the difference, it was one unfortunate missed tackle. Our defence was pretty good no defensive system can survive missed tackles."

As for Worcester they head off to Welford Road for tea with the Tigers next Friday before hosting London Irish and Exeter.

"Those are two winnable games and this result will help the players play in a more relaxed way," said Hill. "The whole club, even the supporters can relax after tonight."

But not too much, its getting on for three years since Worcester scored a Premiership try bonus and that must be one of the records Hills men look to break before an otherwise very positive campaign is over.

WORCESTER: Pennell; Garvey, Grove, Rasmussen, Benjamin; A Goode, Perry (Arr 66); Mullan, Lutui (Shervington 73), Taumoepeau, Percival, Chris Jones, Betty, Abbott (Cowan 19), Horstmann. Replacements: Ceri Jones, Douglas, Gillies, Gray, Fatiaki

NEWCASTLE: Manning (Goosen 75); Uys (Sheriffe 70), Helleur, Fitzpatrick, Tait; Gopperth, Stringer; Golding (Shiells 66), Thompson (Graham 64), Murray, Swinson (Fondse 43-47), J Goode (Fondse 70), Tuifua (Wilson 73), Welch, Hogg. Replacements: Wells, Chudley

Referee: JP Doyle