Fullback Jason Woodward kicked the Melbourne Rebels to a 22-16 victory to end the Western Force’s five-match-winning Super 15 run in Melbourne yesterday.
Woodward scored 17 points from five penalties and a conversion as the Rebels held on to nudge out the Force after both teams scored a try each in a dour contest.
The Rebels made amends for their early season 32-7 humiliation against the Force.
It was their third win of the season and kept them on the bottom of the Australian conference along with the Queensland Reds, who have a bye this weekend.
Melbourne dominated the first half, except on the scoreboard, with the teams locked at 6-6 at halftime.
The Rebels did not get across the try line until the 61st minute and they relied on Woodward kicking penalties to keep them in front.
Skipper Scott Higginbotham charged over from the back of the scrum to put the Rebels 19-9 ahead with 20 minutes left.
The Melbourne scrum was dominant against the Force, with lock Luke Jones prominent with a game-high 16 runs.
The Force, missing scrumhalf Alby Mathewson (ankle), lock Sam Wykes (rib) and winger Luke Morahan (hamstring), also struggled to score a try, with South African flyhalf Sias Ebersohn keeping them in the game.
The Force hammered away in the second half, but the home side’s defense held firm.
The Western Force looked to have run out of steam on the back of their winning run, which included the scalp of the New South Wales Waratahs in Perth last weekend.
Force winger Nick Cummins crossed after the fulltime siren to ensure an important losing bonus point and keep them in second place in the Australian conference, ahead of the Waratahs match against the Northern Bulls in Sydney today.
Higginbotham said the win was overdue after a run of back-to-back losses, including to the champions Waikato Chiefs in the past round.
“The scrum was fantastic and we really built on that,” Higginbotham said. “The boys had a tough time in New Zealand, so to come back here and really put it on, it was good for them.”
“It was time for us to get a win,” he added.
Force skipper Matt Hodgson believed his team was 10 percent off their game, but they now have eight days to prepare for their home match against South Africa’s Northern Bulls in Perth.