The Western Force kept their hopes of reaching the final alive by breaking a seven-game losing streak with a 48-28 win over Moana Pacifica in Auckland.
By doing so, the Force claimed their first win in New Zealand since 2014, as well as gaining significant bonus points to keep things tough in the race to stay in the top eight.
With one round of play remaining, the Force must defeat the Hurricane at the Australian home on Sunday, as well as the Melbourne Rebels must defeat the Highlanders to enter the eight after that day.
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With the win, Force Super Rugby has moved up to ninth place in the Pacific table.
The force began with Andrew Reddy’s initial efforts behind a mall, then life in the West Australians became particularly difficult for a very short time.
Moments after Reddy’s attempt, Pacific’s destructive ball winger Tima Fainganuku ran through three defenders to try to get under the stick, breaking his path.
Faingaanuku scored again but took his team to a nine-point advantage in the corner.
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For a dangerous tackle in the 27th minute, Levi Aumuar opened the gate for a yellow card force, who tried to regain a back-to-back lead in the first half.
The gap quickly becomes a balloon as Byron Ralston, Tony Pulu and Jack McIntyre try to keep the spectators in perfect position to secure the competition points.
But as the match drew to a close full-time, Moana Pacific’s two late attempts kept the force out of the bonus point range before a Kyle Godwin tried to put them back in full-time shadow.
“It’s no secret that we’ve had a tough week with a few big scorecards [against us]”After the game, Force captain Ian Pryor said.
“I’m really proud of the team. We’ve talked about resilience as well as responding with a small change … I’m very proud of the boys.”
Tuesday’s game was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak, with a make-up clash for the previous match, forcing both teams to make a brief change.
The defeat of Moana Pacifica means they will end the season under the table.
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