The Western Force had double reason to celebrate on Saturday night despite suffering a 17-3 Super Rugby loss to the Stormers in wet and soggy conditions in Perth.
A controversial try to centre Bryan Habana and Peter Grant’s 12-point contribution set up the win for the Stormers, who remain equal top of the South African conference.
In contrast, the Force’s seventh loss of the season all but ended their slim finals hopes, with the franchise a worrying 14 points adrift of the Brumbies with just seven games remaining.
But the big talking point was about the Force’s work off the field, with the franchise securing the services of Wallabies and Queensland halfback Will Genia for next season.
And in a bonus, flanker David Pocock is also set to re-sign with the club.
On the field, things weren’t looking all that good for the Force when Habana intercepted Force five-eighth David Harvey’s ambitious pass to score the opening try of the night in the 20th minute.
Habana ran 60m before diving under the posts untouched.
But replays showed the ball actually slipped out of Habana’s arms just centimetres short of the tryline, with the referees not close enough to see the mistake.
Tempers threatened to boil over in the 25th minute when several players engaged in a wrestle near the touchlines.
No yellow cards were given, but tensions continued to simmer for the remainder of the half.
Returning Force winger Napolioni Nalaga pulled off a brilliant try-saving tackle in the 26th minute to deny Stormers fullback Johan Pietersen in the corner, but a glut of unforced errors from both sides in the slippery conditions ensured the score remained 7-3 to the Stormers at halftime.
A penalty to Grant gave the visitors a 10-3 edge early in the second half, and the Stormers were well on their way to victory when the playmaker charged over for a try in the 49th minute.
From then on, the only question was whether the Stormers could notch the four tries needed for a bonus point.
They failed on that front, but notched their eighth win from nine games.
Players struggled to keep their feet for much of the match, with heavy showers ensuring a water-logged pitch.