sport

Ryan eyes great escape

Worcester boss Dean Ryan was is under no illusions about the size of the task his tea, face to avoid relegation but still thinks they have an outside chance after winning their first game of the season at Newcastle.

Worcester gave themselves an outside chance of avoiding relegation with a 17-12 victory at Newcastle, which narrowed the gap between the Warriors and the Falcons to nine points with four games left.

Ryan was pleased his side had given themselves a glimmer of hope, but warned there was plenty of hard work still ahead.

"We've got some tough opposition to come, but let's see what a win does to us and if it takes off that suffocating pressure we've been under," Ryan said.

"Of course we can do it. If we hadn't won today we would have been really up against it. We have to get a win somewhere, a bonus point or two and get it in the last game of the season. Things go weird on the last day of the season.

"We're not pretending we're suddenly a top-six side or any rubbish like that, but we've become a pretty strong group and that's the first place to start for us to move forward.

"I'm just really pleased for the players. We've had a couple of really rough rides in recent weeks. We lose in injury time by one point away to one of the top four sides and you desperately want to give them the fix, but you can't - you just have to let them keep rolling around.

"I'm delighted how strong they stayed as a team and we haven't disintegrated. They have been really tight for about two months and I think we needed to be today because that was a pretty ugly game and we needed to hang in there and we had to work together, and we did.

"We got one break and it gave us enough to get to the end. There's a lot of pressure and a lot of fear around about making the error, a lot of balls being kicked in difficult circumstances and we're just pleased that we have got something in the end, something tangible.

"It came off the end of a good team performance, if not a good performance, if that makes any sense, because if anything that's the worst we've played for a while.

"The result gives us life. It would have been a pretty crappy season if we'd just stumbled through. This group don't want to do that - they want to fight. They want too make it really difficult for anybody. We know we have to pull off a miracle match somewhere, but you never know."

Falcons reaction

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards had to settle for the losing bonus point and ponder what might have been.

"It was a bit of lucky try for them that sealed it with a missed tackle down our right-hand side and it could have happened both ways, to be honest," said Richards. "We had opportunities to score, didn't take them and they had two opportunities and took one of them.

"It wasn't a great game in any way shape or form. Just very disappointing with the way it was played. We felt the pressure a little bit and because of that there were certain inaccuracies that crept into our game.

"I don't look at it as four games left in which to survive. Everybody knows the situation, everybody knows what the relative fixtures are and everybody knows it's about going out there and nailing them.

"For us, it's going to be hard - as it will be for Worcester - and we just need to keep racking up the points."

"The game was hyped up to be a decider, and in some respects it was never going to be a decider because we still have that nine-point cushion. We went into the game and simply didn't play well - that's the disappointment.

"We play London Irish next and they are not firing well either so we have to try and look at whether there are opportunities for us to do something.

"We will take a little bit of heart from the Quins game, the Northampton and Leicester game before that and try and put this one, which wasn't particularly good on the day, behind us."