Force beat the Brumbies
The Force picked up a morale-boosting 21-15 win over the Brumbies on Saturday to end their 2013 season on a high note at nib Stadium in Perth.
Defeat means the Brumbies will miss out on a rest and instead face the Cheetahs in next week's Super Rugby play-off showdown in Canberra.
In truth they were beaten by a side that wanted it a great deal more than themselves as the Force deserved their campaign-ending success.
It was a scoreless opening quarter as both sides sized each other up, hoping to avoid a similarly dull showpiece as the earlier game in Sydney.
Eventually it would be the Force who broke the deadlock when Matt Hodgson powered over the whitewash, with Jayden Hayward making it 7-0.
Hodgson was then on the wrong end of the whistle as he found himself penalised by referee Rohan Hoffman, allowing Wallabies and Brumbies centre Christian Lealiifano to make it 7-3.
That was how things looked to be headed going into the break as Jake White was surely ready to unleash a tirade of words on his charges. However, it would get worse for the Brumbies before the whistle as the Force moved eleven points ahead when Ben McCalman went over following Alby Mathewson's quick tap.
The Force were the ones who rallied further though and, looking for their first try bonus-point in 25 games, they scored their third try of the game when Junior Rasolea crossed for their third score of the game. It came from Nick Cummins' impressive line bust on halfway before his one-handed offload found the wing playing at centre. Hayward's successful extras opened up a 21-3 lead for the hosts, who were playing will all the confidence in the world.
Brumbies centre Tevita Kuridrani would respond two minutes later as he hit a good line off Matt Toomua from close range and when second-row Scott Fardy crashed over with fifteen minutes to go, the Force were suddenly only six points in front despite all their earlier struggles.
But they managed to hold on and despite Hayward's long-range penalty miss, Toomua's decision to not dot the ball down in-goal before passing to his 22 summed up their day.
For Western Force:
Tries: Hodgson, McCalman, Rasolea
Con: Hayward 3
Tries: Kuridrani, Fardy
Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Ben Jacobs, 12 Junior Rasolea, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Matt Hodgson (c), 5 Hugh McMeniman, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 James Hilterbrand, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Salesi Ma'afu, 18 Toby Lynn, 19 Richard Brown, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Sam Norton-Knight, 22 Sam Christie.
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Colby Faingaa, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Fotu Auelua, 19 George Smith, 20 Robbie Coleman, 21 Andrew Smith, 22 Mark Swanepoel.
Referee: Rohan Hoffman (Australia)
Assistant referees: Ian Smith (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)