WARRIORS opened their European Challenge Cup campaign with an agonising defeat but two bonus points from another brave performance at Kingston Park.

Having drawn 24-24 in the Gallagher Premiership two weeks ago there was again very little to split the sides who scored four tries apiece.

In the end the difference proved to be 77th minute penalty from Newcastle’s replacement fly-half Joel Hodgson and a number of missed opportunities in a match of very fine margins.

But points on the road are hard to come by in European competition and the two gained here may well prove significant if Warriors go on to reach the knockout stages.

Although weather conditions were not quite as severe as they were two weeks ago when Storm Arwen forced a postponement, the match was again played in numbing cold but both teams did their bit to warm the crowd by playing enterprising rugby.

Warriors showed composure and character to recover from conceding a try right from the kick-off when they failed to secure the kick, the ball bounced between players and popped up nicely for Newcastle centre Max Wright who nipped in with barely ten seconds on the clock.

Warriors were level again within six minutes when they were awarded a penalty try after they kicked a penalty to the corner, won the lineout and Newcastle collapsed the driving maul with their captain Will Welch sin-binned as the culprit.

A brilliant counter-attack, started and finished by Duhan van der Merwe with big carries from Kyle Hatherell, Ted Hill and Niall Annett in between, was converted by Billy Searle but Newcastle were soon back on level terms when Warriors were unable to clear their lines and former England full-back Mike Brown crossed for a try that Haydon-Wood improved.

Warriors responded with a well-taken try of their own with Alex Hearle intercepting just inside his own half then galloping away before he slipped the ball inside to the supporting Harri Doel who dotted down with Searle adding the extras.

Ollie Lindsay-Hague crossed for a well-worked try seven minutes into the second half which Haydon-Wood also converted but Warriors looked dangerous with ball in hand and struck again when Will Chudley crossed for his fourth try of the season from a clever lineout move.

Fin Smith, who had just come on as a replacement, was unable to add the conversion that would have levelled the scores again.

Instead Hodgson found the target with a woozy-looking penalty that put Newcastle five points clear and frustrated Warriors push for the try they needed to secure another point and, possibly, three.