DEBUTANT Noah Heward stepped up to the plate to help Worcester Warriors beat 14-man Dragons 34-28 and keep their European Challenge Cup quest alive.

The Redditch-born teenager pounced on a loose ball before scampering over for a crucial second-half try that steered Warriors to a bonus-point victory.

But this was a disjointed display by Worcester who made hard work of seeing off a Dragons side that were a man down for 62 minutes after Taine Basham’s red card.

And Luke Baldwin’s late try rescued a point that keeps the Welsh outfit at the top of Pool One ahead of Friday’s return fixture at Rodney Parade.

Geoff Berkeley picks out five talking points from Saturday’s win.


Not many Warriors fans would have heard of Heward before this weekend’s clash.

But after his man-of-the-match showing against Dragons the 19-year-old was the talk of the town.

With boss Alan Solomons opting to field a 23-man squad packed full of English qualified players Heward was presented with his first-team chance.

And from the moment Heward who has been playing his trade at National Two North club Stourbridge this season claimed his first high ball in the opening minute he had arrived on the big stage.

There was the odd wobble as he shanked one kick in the air, but he showed great potential as he put in thumping tackles and bagged a memorable try.

Trailing 21-20 with 15 minutes left, Heward was first to the ball which squirted out of the side of a ruck and eased over the try-line.


For the second match in a row Warriors benefitted from a sending off.

Last weekend there could be no question over the decision to send off Sale Sharks’ Jean-Luc du Preez as replays showed his shoulder strike Graham Kitchener in the face.

But without access to television match officials in the second-tier European competition referee Marius Mitrea was unable to get a second view of Basham’s tip tackle on 18 minutes.

On first viewing, replacement back Gareth Simpson appeared to land on his side after being lifted off his feet by Basham. Therefore, a yellow card would have sufficed.

But after consulting with a touch judge Mitrea opted to send off the forward – a contentious decision that incensed Dragons boss Dean Ryan.

It was a crucial call and needed the assistance of a TMO for Mitrea to consider any mitigating factors.


With a man advantage for more than an hour Warriors should have taken control of this clash.

But a catalogue of errors and a high penalty count allowed Dragons to twice take the lead in the second half.

Moments after Ollie Lawrence went over, Gerrit-Jan van Velze fumbled the restart and Warriors were penalised for offside, gifting Sam Davies the chance to kick his side in front.

That summed up Worcester’s error-ridden performance. They lacked fluidity in attack, often trying to force a pass that was not on, and were penalised on multiple occasions.

But crucially Solomons’ young Warriors side still came out on top, claiming a maximum-point win over a more experienced Dragons team.


Solomons must have been asking himself this question when Baldwin scored with four minutes to go.

Baldwin remains on Worcester’s books having signed a three-year deal in February 2018 but is a Dragons player after agreeing a season-long loan.

And with nothing in his agreement stopping him from facing Warriors Baldwin was named on the bench.

The 29-year-old then put any allegiances to Worcester to one side to notch a crucial late try for Dragons as Davies broke free before feeding the number nine who darted over.

Had Baldwin not touched down Warriors would have gone top on points difference.

But his losing bonus-point clinching score means Dragons stay at the summit, one point ahead of Worcester with three matches left.

Warriors now visit the Welsh region on Friday in a match that could decide the group.


Owners Jason Whittingham and Colin Goldring along with managing director Peter Kelly have done a lot of good since their arrival in October 2018.

The three big screens have been a welcome addition while the fan zone has also boosted the matchday experience.

But the lighting remains an issue and needs to be rectified.

The old problematic floodlights may have gone but the new lights installed along the roof of the East Stand have not improved the situation.

From my position in the West Stand you could see the fans across the other side of the pitch more clearly than the players in the second period.

The colours of the kits did not help matters with Warriors sporting their black European attire.

But the lighting is a problem and I am not the only person that can see that.