The Western Force were confined to their fifth consecutive defeat in the Super 14 after going down 14-10 to the Waratahs at ME Bank Stadium in Perth on Saturday.
The hosts had several attempts to pull the game out of the fire in the dying minutes, but ill-discipline cost them dear as the men from Sydney held on for a gritty win.
It wasn't pretty, with plenty errors coming from both sides in this all-Aussie affair, but the visitors did enough to force their way into the top four while the Force collected their first points of the season - a losing bonus point.
The Force can also find solace from an improved effort following their 50-10 loss to the Reds - with their line-out particularly impressive - but remain rooted to the bottom of the table.
It was far from the free-flowing contest the Waratahs had last week in their 73-12 win over the Lions, with Berrick Barnes also missing three of four shots on goal in the first half
The Waratahs trailed 10-8 at half-time but regained the lead courtesy of two penalties from fly-half Daniel Halangahu, who took over the kicking duties from the wayward Barnes after the break.
The sides traded early penalties in the first half, before Waratahs winger Drew Mitchell, appearing against his former side for the first time, dotted down in the sixteenth minute when he beat opposite number Scott Staniforth to Halangahu's grubber kick.
With the visitors on the attack, Barnes saw his pass picked off by Staniforth, who sprinted 60 meters to touch down unopposed between the posts. O'Connor's conversion gave the Force a deserved half-time lead.
However, the Waratahs were back in front in the 56th minute when a penalty against the Force scrum allowed Halangahu to kick for three points, with another penalty in the 64th extending the margin to four points.
The Force attacked strongly in the final 20 minutes and were unlucky not to find the winning try, with a dogged defensive effort from the Waratahs denying the home side on several occasions.
The Western Australians' season doesn't get any easier - they take on the defending champions and unbeaten Bulls from South Africa next weekend at home.
Man of the match: He came, he saw but didn't quite conquer. However, Matt Hodgson's 110 per cent effort earns the Force flanker this award anyway!
For Western Force:
Pens: Barnes, Halangahu 2
Western Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Scott Staniforth, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 James O'Connor, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 David Hill, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Richard Stanford, 7 Matt Hodgson, 6 Ben McCalman, 5 Nathan Sharpe (c), 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Tim Fairbrother, 2 Ryan Tyrrell, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Kieran Longbottom, 18 Tom Hockings, 19 Luke Jones, 20 Chris O'Young, 21 Sam Harris, 22 Mitch Inman.
Waratahs: 15 Sosene Anesi, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Tom Carter, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Phil Waugh (c), 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Dan Palmer, 18 Will Caldwell, 19 Locky McCaffrey, 20 Josh Holmes, 21 Kurtley Beale, 22 Rob Horne.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Dickinson (Australia), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Julian Pritchard (Australia