Cummins the hero in Force victory
The Western Force's superb recent form continued when they secured a 28-16 victory over the Waratahs in Perth on Saturday.
The victory means the Force are now on a five-match unbeaten run after previous triumphs over the Rebels, Highlanders, Chiefs and Reds.
The men from Perth delivered a superb defensive effort but the game's undoubted hero was their left wing Nic Cummins, who crossed over for a hat-trick of tries.
The Sydneysiders raced into a 6-0 lead thanks to two early penalties from Kurtley Beale but the Force struck back with a three-pointer of their own via the boot of Sias Ebersohn.
After that, the Waratahs spent several minutes camped inside the home side's 22 but the Force crossed over for the game's opening try against the run of play.
Cummins' intercepted Nick Phipps' pass close to the Force's try-line, and sprinted the length of the field before crossing over. Ebersohn succceeded with the conversion which gave the hosts a 10-6 lead but Bernard Foley narrowed the gap to a single point when he slotted the visitors' third penalty shortly afterwards.
The Waratahs did most of the attacking during the rest of the half but it was the Force who extended their lead, via another Ebersohn three-pointer, after Michael Hooper was penalised for a ruck infringement.
The Waratahs made the early attacking after the break and they thought they had regained the lead, in the 46th minute, when Cam Crawford got over the try-line after running onto an inside pass from Foley just outside the Force's 22.
Referee Angus Gardner consulted his TMO, who ruled that Jono Lance - who was used as a dummy runner - had interfered with Alby Mathewson who was trying to tackle Crawford.
Five minutes later, Cummins got over for his second three-pointer after brilliant work from Mathewson in the build-up. The former All Blacks scrum-half slipped past Dave Dennis, close to the halfway line, before offloading to Cummins, who scored in the corner despite the attentions of Beale who made a desperate tackle as the Force flyer went over the the try-line.
Ebersohn failed with the conversion but with the Force now holding an 18-9 lead, the Waratahs launched several attacking forays inside their hosts' half.
They were met by a fierce defensive effort from the Force with captain Matt Hodgson and fellow flanker Angus Cottrell leading the charge up front and Marcel Brache followed their lead amongst the backs.
The defensive pressure paid dividends when Cummins pounced on a wayward pass from Kurtley Beale inside the Force's 22 and set off towards the Waratahs' try-line. He still had work to do and despite being hauled in five metres from the try-line by Crawford, Cummins managed to wriggle free from that tackle before diving over in the left-hand corner despite another challenge from Lance.
Ebersohn added the extras which meant the home side held a 25-9 lead with less than 20 minutes to play. The Waratahs struck back, five minutes later, when Beale was in the clear down the left-hand touch and he burst through a tackle from Luke Morahan before scoring in the corner.
Foley landed the conversion, from close to the touchline but although the visitors tried desperately to add to their tally with another five-pointer they could not break down the Force's defence.
Ebersohn took the game away from the visitors when he added another penalty, from in front of the posts, shortly before full-time and the result means that the Force have now moved up to third place on the overall standings and, above the 'Tahs, into second on the Australian conference table.
For Western Force:
Tries: Cummins 3
Cons: Ebersohn 2
Pens: Ebersohn 3
Pens: Beale 2, Foley
Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Zach Holmes, 23 Chris Tuatara-Morrison.
Waratahs: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Cam Crawford, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Dave Dennis (c), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgeiter, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sepoke Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Silatolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Talalelei Gray, 20 Stephen Hoiles, 21 Patrick McCutcheon, 22 Brendan MccKibbin, 23 Matt Carraro.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)