The Waratahs bounced back to beat the Force 20-15 in Sydney on Saturday, a win that keeps their Super Rugby play-off hopes alive.
The Waratahs bounced back to beat the Force 20-15 at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday, a win that keeps their Super Rugby play-off hopes alive.
It was the hosts' second win on the trot, and back-to-back defeats for the Force, as the Waratahs outscored their Aussie rivals two tries to nill that sees them jump up to fifth on the overall ladder.
Force pivot James O'Connor kicked five penalties, but it wasn't enough as the Waratahs clinched another tight encounter with a try to hooker John Ulugia ten minutes from full-time.
Centre Ryan Cross bagged the Waratahs' other try, when a Kurtley Beale penalty attempt bounced off the uprights and landed in the arms of the former Force centre.
It was one of those moments that doesn't happen very often in rugby, when the player is rewarded for chasing a penalty kick, and Cross strolled over for a fortuitous try as the visitors looked on helplessly.
That was the start of the Waratahs fightback after trailing 6-9 at half-time with all the first-half points coming from the boots of Beale and O'Connor.
With neither team prepared to run anything at one another, the dull derby was resorted to kicking tactics in a bid to gain the upper hand with territory and force any penalties that came their way. Yawn!
The Sydney crowd eventually had something to cheer about in the 44th minute when Cross scored off Beale's penalty attempt that ricocheted off the left upright.
Beale converted for a 13-9 advantage before O'Connor nudged the Force back ahead with his fourth and fifth penalty goals in quick succession (13-15).
A Force upset was then denied by Ulugia, the Waratahs' third-choice hooker, who managed to place the ball down under a pile of bodies for the match-winner.
The Waratahs had a chance after the final hooter had sounded to bag another three points and make it an eight-point win, but turned down the opportunity to slot a last-minute penalty to further boost their for-and-against record.
The strange decision also allowed the Force to leave Sydney with a losing bonus point.
The victory was just the tonic for the Waratahs, who enjoy a bye next weekend and a guaranteed four competition points before hosting the last-placed Lions the following round.
Tries: Cross, Ulugia
Con: Beale 2
Pens: Beale 2
For Western Force:
Pens: O'Connor 5
Waratahs15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Sosene Anesi, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Pat McCutcheon, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Dean Mumm(c), 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Benn Robinson
Replacements: 16 Ben Roberts, 17 Al Baxter, 18 Kane Douglas, 19 Chris Alcock, 20 Brendan McKibbin, 21 Daniel Halangahu, 22 Tom Kingston.
Western Force: 15 Pat Dellit, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 James O'Connor, 11 David Smith, 10 Willie Ripia, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Richard Brown, 7 David Pocock, 6 Matt Hodgson, 5 Nathan Sharpe (c), 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Matt Dunning, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Tim Fairbrother, 18 Tom Hockings, 19 Ben McCalman, 20 James Stannard, 21 Rory Sidey, 22 Alfie Mafi.
Referee: Stuart Dickinson (Australia)