RugbyU: Force go fourth as Ebersohn tames Cheetahs

Western Force fly half Sias Ebersohn kicked 13 points against former team Central Cheetahs Saturday in a 23-16 victory that lifted them to fourth in the Super 15 standings.

The playmaker, who moved to Australia after failing to hold a regular starting place at the South African franchise, potted two conversions and three penalties from five shots at goal.

Full back Jayden Hayward and left wing Nick Cummins scored a try each for the Perth outfit, who led 16-6 at half-time in Bloemfontein.

No. 8 Boom Prinsloo was credited with Cheetahs' push-over try, which Johan Goosen converted and the fly half also kicked three penalties from four attempts.

The result completed a dismal weekend for South African sides against Australasian opposition, with Golden Lions losing at Otago Highlanders and Coastal Sharks at ACT Brumbies.

Victory at Free State Stadium continued a fairytale season for traditional southern hemisphere championship strugglers Force.

It was the seventh win in 10 outings for the Michael Foley-coached side and they are just five points behind combined table pacesetters Sharks.

Force are even closer to the top of the Australian conference standings, lying three points adrift of former champions Brumbies.

Success has been achieved largely through the inspirational captaincy of flanker Matt Hodgson, teamwork, outstanding defence and attacking opportunism.

These qualities were evident in Bloemfontein although Hodgson spent 10 minutes in the 'sin bin' after slapping the ball from the grasp of Cheetahs' scrum half Sarel Pretorius.

During his time on the sideline, Cheetahs scored a converted try to leave just three points between the teams on a chilly evening.

But Cummins also dotted down while Force were numerically disadvantaged and Ebersohn converted with a superb angled kick.

A 23-13 lead for the west Australian side was trimmed to seven points when Goosen kicked a penalty and the Cheetahs thought they scored a second try through prop Coenie Oosthuizen.

But New Zealand referee Chris Pollock, who ruled out a first-half try by Force centre Kyle Godwin for accidental offside, said the huge forward rolled the ball over the line.

Furious South African coach Naka Drotske shook his head in disbelief when the decision was made, but his team wasted several try-scoring chances.

Cheetahs camped inside the Force '22' for lengthy spells during the closing stages, but could not breach the defensive web spun by the visitors.

The only consolation for the home team was a losing bonus point, which lifted them off the bottom, one point above compatriots Western Stormers.

However, Stormers have a chance to reverse the placings later Saturday when they face fellow South Africans Northern Bulls in Pretoria.