(Reuters) - Argentine flyhalf Domingo Miotti kicked a penalty after the hooter to secure a crucial 31-30 victory for the Western Force over the winless New South Wales Waratahs in their Super Rugby AU clash in Perth on Saturday.
The win keeps alive the Force's hopes of earning the second play-off place this season as they jump to third in the table on 14 points from seven matches, ahead of the Melbourne Rebels (11 from six games), who play against the ACT Brumbies on Sunday.
The Force face the table-topping Queensland Reds in their final group phase match next weekend. The Reds have already earned a final spot, and the Brumbies have qualified for the play-off.
The Waratahs, who have struggled with a youthful squad this season and have now lost all seven of their matches, scored tries through number eight Will Harris, fullback Jack Maddocks and wing Alex Newsome, while prop Tom Robertson, hooker Feleti Kaitu'u and wing Jordan Olowofela crossed for the home side.
The visitors lost flanker Lachie Swinton to an early yellow card following a dangerous tackle, and in the time he was off the field the Force raced into a 10-0 lead.
Robertson barged over against his former side for his first try for the Force, and Miotti added the conversion and a penalty.
Harris scored the first points for the visitors with a try, but Kaitu'u ripped the ball out of a maul and raced away for the second score for the Force.
Miotti added a drop-goal to make it 18-10 to the home side at halftime, but two early tries for the Waratahs at the start of the period from Maddocks and Newsome turned the contest in their favour.
They led 30-28 as the hooter sounded, but when the Waratahs were penalised at the ruck after the home side had taken the ball through 20 phases, Miotti was given the penalty chance from right in front of the posts to seal the win.
(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Hugh Lawson)