NEWCASTLE FALCONS gave their Gallagher Premiership survival hopes a massive boost as they claimed a hard-fought 17-6 victory over Worcester at Kingston Park.

Toby Flood turned in a man-of-the-match performance with a converted try, penalty and another conversion of Zach Kibirige’s early try as the hosts denied their fellow strugglers a losing bonus point and cut the gap at the bottom of the table to five points.

Newcastle got off to a great start with an opportunist try from Teessider Kibirige after just six minutes.

The winger, who scored twice against Exeter last weekend, seized his chance when scrum-half Sonatane Takulua was impeded at the base of the ruck.

As referee Wayne Barnes signalled penalty advantage, Kibirige, a former student at Yarm School, snapped up the ball and raced through from 30 metres, with Flood converting.

Duncan Weir kicked a penalty for 7-3 in the tenth minute when the Falcons dropped the scrum, before Flood did likewise four minutes later after a searing move by Simon Hammersley and Sinoti Sinoti ended with Logovi’i Mulipola touching down.

However, the prop was clearly in front of Flood’s grubber kick and Newcastle had to settle for the penalty advantage score.

Weir made it 10-6 with a penalty when Calum Green neck-rolled Marco Mama in the 23rd minute.

Mulipola went close again with a rampaging charge as Newcastle ran the ball from from a line-out in the corner but he was short of the line.

However, from the five-metre scrum Takulua broke left and Flood surged over for a 32nd-minute try which he also successfully converted to add the extras.

Kibirige was denied what would have been a brilliant second try when Chris Harris swept down the right and Kibirige chipped over the Worcester defence - but the TMO ruled he had failed to ground the ball correctly.

It looked marginal and the decision did not go down well with the home supporters.

Flood then missed a penalty just before half-time and Newcastle went in just 17-6 ahead when the advantage could have been much more given the extent of their superiority.

Worcester had a chance with a line-out in the corner early in the second half but the drive was held and then Gary Graham was in over the ball in a flash to win the penalty and relieve the pressure.

It was Newcastle’s turn to blow a real chance when Flood rifled a kick to the corner but the Falcons made a real mess of the line-out and conceded a free kick.

Handling was proving difficult in the windy and wet conditions and there were some big hits from both sides but Newcastle had the edge in territory and possession as the teams opted to kick for position, with Flood and Hammersley supreme.

Worcester finally broke out of their own half with five minutes left, with a penalty down to the 22, only for Newcastle to win the ball on the Warriors throw - and they did it again at the next line-out.

They were crucial turnovers and Newcastle made sure the game was played in midfield in the closing minutes.

Newcastle Falcons: Hammersley, Kibirige, Harris, Williams (Matavesi 75), Sinoti, Flood, Takulua; Lockwood, McGuigan (Cooper 63), Mulipola (D Wilson 71), Green, Davidson, Welch, Graham, Chick (Nagusa 63).