Bulls return home from their Australasian tour without a single win
The Force held on in wet conditions to secure a 15-9 victory over the Bulls in a scrappy and tryless match in Perth on Saturday.
The defeat means that the Bulls return home from their Australasian tour without a single win, whilst the Force move into second place in the Australian conference ahead of their bye next week.
The Bulls made a steady start to the game, patiently taking it through the phases from the first scrum, and they were eventually rewarded when Ben McCalman went off his feet at the breakdown and Jacques-Louis Potgieter was able to open the scoring with a penalty.
Both teams were keen to assert territorial dominance in the wet conditions, so there were plenty of high balls in the early exchanges as they both looked to force some mistakes.
The Bulls managed to hold on to the ball in opposition territory as they continued to call the early shots, and they were able to double their lead when Force flyhalf Sias Ebersohn strayed offside on defence.
They nearly extended that lead further when Potgieter had a crack at a drop-goal, but it hit the bar and the Force were able to scramble it away although they remained pinned in their own half thanks to some good tactical kicking from the Bulls.
The Force finally got off the mark after 25 minutes when Victor Matfield went off his feet at the breakdown and Ebersohn was able to slot the penalty to make it 6-3.
The kicking battle continued in the slippery conditions, and the Force were able to level the scores before long when Bulls prop Dean Greyling did not roll away in the tackle and they would take a 9-6 lead into half-time as Ebersohn slotted another penalty just before the break.
The home side continued their dominance after the break, with a few basic errors letting the Bulls down, and Ebersohn stepped up to slot his fourth penalty which took their lead out to 12-6.
The Bulls responded by tightening things up further as they worked their way into the Force 22 but their hopes of scoring the first try of the game were dashed by obstruction at the maul.
The Force had a fantastic opportunity of their soon afterwards when they won back a high kick on the Bulls' 22, but they too could not get over the line and had to settle for another Ebersohn penalty to take their lead to 15-6.
The visitors finally hit back with a penalty from replacement Handre Pollard after a powerful scrum and that seemed to spark the Bulls who stormed back into the Force 22 immediately.
The Force managed to hold out thanks to an illegal charge from Jacques du Plessis, and although the Bulls pushed hard in the final stages they could not find a way through as the Force held on for a gritty victory.
Man of the match: It was a big effort from the force pack, but our award goes to flyhalf Sias Ebersohn who controlled the game well with his boot and did not miss a kick off the tee.
For the Western Force:
Pens: Ebersohn 5
For the Bulls:
Pens: Potgieter 2, Pollard
Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Adam Coleman, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Justin Turner, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Chris Tuatara-Morrison.
Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Johannes Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Grant Hattingh, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Marcel van der Merwe, 18 Jacques Engelbrecht, 19 Wimpie van der Walt, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Handré Pollard, 22 Ulrich Beyers, 23 Morné Mellet.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia) , Matt O'Brien (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)