Newcastle fly-half Willis not to blame for defeat to Worcester

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Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards defended his substitute fly-half Craig Willis after the 22-year-old missed a potential match-winning conversion in Newcastle's 15-14 defeat by Worcester at Kingston Park.

Willis was on for former England cap Andy Goode, who had kicked three penalties, but Worcester led 14-9 after tries by Dewald Potgieter, converted by Tom Heathcote who also kicked a penalty, and Bryce Heem.

Rob Vickers was driven over for a Newcastle try in the 73rd minute but with the score at 15-14, Willis lined up the conversion but he was well off target.

"They all miss kicks, don't they?" said Richards. "And Andy Goode missed one earlier.

"We just didn't perform and were about 60 per cent efficient in what was a pretty boring game, which is very disappointing. They took their chances and we didn't.

"We tried hard in the last 10 minutes but it was a pretty poor game between two sides who looked as if they were both trying to lose the game.

"We won by a point against Northampton and we lost by a point this time. It's disappointing that we didn't play to our potential."

It ended Newcastle's four-match home winning run in the Premiership and saw Worcester leapfrog into 10th place, one above their opponents.

"I'm just pleased for the lads," said Worcester boss Dean Ryan. "They had the courage to go out play for the win.

"To come back from that late try and get a result says a lot about this team.

"The win is a relief. Let's not talk about momentum. If you win two or three that's momentum. We've broken Newcastle's momentum which is important and it puts the pressure back on them."