Will Harrison booted 13 points as the Waratahs' Super Rugby AU revival gathered steam on Friday, powering past the Western Force 28-8 to inflict a fifth straight defeat on the struggling Perth team.
AS IT HAPPENED | Force v Waratahs
They came into the game on a high after thumping the Reds 45-12 last week, and turned in another impressive performance against a side that looks destined for the tournament wooden spoon.
Young flyhalf Harrison is the competition's top points scorer and his radar was working again in front of new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, who was watching in the Gold Coast stadium.
He kicked three penalties and two conversions, with Alex Newsome, Jack Maddocks and Harry Johnson-Holmes bagging tries.
"We haven't won two in a row since March 2019, so that was huge for us," said Waratahs skipper Rob Simmons. "We knew we would encounter a physical battle and the first 20 minutes was a real slog, but it slowly started to open up for us."
With Karmichael Hunt and Michael Hooper, in his 150th game, directing operations, the win saw them overtake the Melbourne Rebels and move into second on the five-team ladder, three points behind the Brumbies who have a bye this week.
The Rebels play a crunch game on Saturday against the Reds as they jockey for the playoff places. The top-placed finisher moves straight into the final, with those in second and third facing off for the right to meet them.
"It was a really physical encounter and the Waratahs put us under a bit of pressure and I thought we built and lost momentum here and there," said Force captain Ian Prior.
"We just need to stay in the game and keep in those key moments. We need to maintain it for the full 80."
The golden boot of Harrison put the first points on the board - his 25th success in 27 attempts this season.
But it was the Force who snatched the opening try with Brynard Stander dotting down after a well-weighted grubber kick from former All Black Richard Kahui bounced perfectly for him to collect.
Harrison added another six points to his burgeoning season total, with Prior also landing a successful kick for the Force, before Newsome got the try the Waratahs deserved after sustained pressure, crashing over in the corner.
Harrison converted to send them to the break 16-8 in front and they stretched their lead soon after the restart when Maddocks intercepted a Jono Lance pass and sprinted 55 metres to the tryline.
The Force enjoyed plenty of possession and strung together some decent moves, but they couldn't breach the watertight 'Tahs defence, with Johnson-Holmes rubbing salt in their wounds with a try on the full-time hooter.
Try: Brynard Stander
Penalty: Ian Prior
Tries: Alex Newsome, Jack Maddocks, Harry Johnson-Holmes
Conversions: Will Harrison (2)
Penalties: Harrison (3)
15 Jake Strachan, 14 Byron Ralston, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Richard Kahui, 11 Brad Lacey, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ian Prior (captain), 8 Brynard Stander, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Henry Stowers, 5 Fergus Lee Warner, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Pek Cowan
Substitutes: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Tom Sheminant, 19 Johan Bardoul, 20 Ollie Atkins, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Nick Jooste, 23 Jack McGregor.
15 Jack Maddocks, 14 James Ramm, 13 Lalakai Foketi, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Lachie Swinton, 5 Rob Simmons (captain), 4 Tom Staniforth, 3 Te Tetera Faulkner, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Tom Robertson
Substitutes: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 19 Ned Hanigan, 20 Hugh Sinclair, 21 Mitch Short, 22 Ben Donaldson, 23 Joey Walton