Super Rugby: Western Force claim hard-fought 15-9 win over Bulls in Pretoria
Last Updated: 26/04/14 12:42pm
Western Force moved third in the Super Rugby standings after Sias Ebersohn kicked them to 15-9 victory over the Bulls, whose tour of Australasia ended fruitless.
A fourth successive defeat means the Bulls return to Pretoria from Australia and New Zealand winless for the first time since 2008.
Heavy downpour at the Subiaco Oval left both sides struggling to gather momentum and it eventually went the way of the hosts, with Ebersohn slotting home five successful penalty kicks.
In a first half which saw in excess of 70 kicks between the sides, the Bulls took the lead through three Jacques-Louis Potgieter penalties, before Sias Ebersohn kicked the Force into control as they took a 9-6 advantage into the break.
The kicking exchanges resumed after the break and Ebersohn continued to nudge Force further ahead before the hosts held out in testing conditions to claim a hard-fought victory on home soil.
As the rain started to fall in Perth, it was the Bulls who seized an early lead courtesy of Potgieter's boot as the fly-half made Force pay for some early indiscipline.
When Nick Cummins latched on a loose ball in Bulls territory, Force looked certain to score the first try of the night, until the free-scoring winger spilled possession just metres short of the line.
As it was, the visitors doubled their lead as Potgieter bisected the uprights after the Force defence was caught offside.
Despite the Bulls dominating possession and territory, Force managed to break out of their own half and Ebersohn finally got the hosts on the board with a 25th-minute penalty.
Force continued to apply pressure on the Bulls defence and fly-half Ebersohn was able to level the scores with the visitors failing to roll away at the breakdown.
With the Bulls failing to bind at the scrum, Ebersohn was handed a simple kick to send the Force into the break with a 9-6 advantage.
Bloemfontein-born Ebersohn edged Michael Foley's side further in front following the restart as the Bulls' indiscipline at the breakdown continued.
Force continued to test the Bulls as they worked their way up to the five-metre line, before opting to grubber through the defensive line.
Although Kyle Godwin was unable to collect Ebersohn's dink through and touch down, the Force fly-half did extend their lead with a fifth successful penalty of the evening.
Bulls' replacement kicker Handre Pollard reduced their arrears to six after he was held up just short having almost broke the Force defence as the visitors fought their way back into contention.
Try as they may, the Bulls were unable to overthrow a resilient Western Force defence in the closing stages, with heavy rainfall making handling increasingly difficult for both sides.
Victory elevates Force to second in the Australian Conference and third in the overall standings, three behind compatriots the Brumbies.
Super Rugby 2014 Round 11
Hurricanes moved top of the New Zealand conference with a 35-21 bonus-point triumph over the Reds on Saturday.
Highlanders ran in four tries as they pulled off a shock 34-18 victory over Super Rugby leaders Sharks at Kings Park.
The Blues kept their slender Super Rugby play-off hopes alive by beating New South Wales Waratahs 21-13 at Eden Park.