Perth - The Force stayed on track for their maiden finals appearance in Super 15 rugby with a 29-19 win over the struggling Lions in Perth on Saturday nightAs it happened: Force v Lions
Led by a brace of tries from rejuvenated skipper Matt Hodgson, the Force notched a club record eighth win for the season to rebound from their loss to the Stormers the previous weekend.
A late bonus point try to the captain lifted the Force to second in the Australian conference, ahead of the Brumbies.
The revamped Lions side started well and led 9-3 just before half-time on the back of three Marnitz Borshoff penalties, but lost their way in a frenzied few minutes before the break.
The Force took advantage of the visitors being a man down to run in two quick tries and size all the momentum heading into the second half.
Corne Fourie from the Lions looked unlucky to be sent off after a head clash with the Force's Nathan Charles in the 35th minute.
The home side capitalised immediately on the resumption of play after Fourie trudged off, with Hodgson diving over.
It capped a good few days for the 32-year-old, who was recalled to the Wallabies squad during the week.
Less than two minutes later, the Force threatened again with a Nick Cummins break seeing Sias Ebersohn held up over the try line.
It didn't hurt the Force though as they switched ball wide from the resulting scrum and Jayden Hayward dived over in corner.
Although Ebersohn's conversion attempt was a shocker, the Force held a 15-9 lead at the break.
The Force had another try disallowed by the video referee in the 45th minute, but looked to have the game in their keeping when Chris Tuatara-Morrison scored his first Super 15 try in the 74th minute to give them a 22-12 lead.
However, the Lions struck back through Elton Jantjies in the 78th minute to trail by just three points again.
Only 60 seconds later the Force secured the win and gained a valuable bonus point when Hodgson reached over the line for his second try.
Despite the win, Hodgson said the Force weren't thinking playoffs yet.
"We are just taking each week as it comes," he said.
"It is a tight competition and we need to keep plugging way with the wins, but it was good to get a bonus point tonight."
Lions captain Warren Whiteley said small errors hurt his side, but added that his team was on the right track despite another loss.
"I am proud of the boys," he said.
"We grew a lot on this tour, even though we couldn't get a result."
Force 29 - Tries: Matt Hodgson (2), Jayden Hayward, Chris Tuatara-Morrison; Conversions: Sias Ebersohn, Hayward (2); Penalty: Ebersohn.
Lions 19 - Try: Elton Jantjies; Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff; Penalties: Boshoff (4).Teams:Force:
15. Jayden Hayward, 14. Dane Haylett-Petty, 13. Chris Tuatara-Morrison, 12. Luke Burton, 11. Nick Cummins, 10. Sias Ebersohn, 9. Ian Prior, 8. Ben McCalman, 7. Matt Hodgson (captain), 6. Angus Cottrell, 5. Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4. Sam Wykes, 3. Kieran Longbottom, 2. Nathan Charles, 1. Pek Cowan
Substitutes: 16. Heath Tessmann, 17. Tetera Faulkner, 18. Ollie Hoskins, 19. Adam Coleman, 20. Brynard Stander, 21. Justin Turner, 22. Zack Holmes, 23. Patrick DellitLions:
15. Coenie van Wyk, 14. JW Jonker, 13. Deon van Rensburg, 12. Alwyn Hollenbach, 11. Anthony Volmink, 10. Marnitz Boshoff, 9. Ross Cronjé, 8. Warren Whiteley (captain), 7. Warwick Tecklenburg , 6. Jaco Kriel, 5. Franco Mostert, 4. Rudi Mathee, 3. Ruan Dreyer, 2. Armand van der Merwe, 1. Corné Fourie
Substitutes: 16. Robbie Coetzee,17. Jacques van Rooyen, 18. Julian Redelinghuys, 19. Willie Britz, 20. Stephan de Wit, 21. Faf de Klerk, 22. Elton Jantjies, 23. Stefan Watermeyer