It wasn't overly pretty but the NSW Waratahs have snapped a four-match losing streak to revive their flagging finals hopes with a 36-16 Super Rugby Pacific win over the Western Force in Sydney.
Spurned skipper Jake Gordon and former Wallabies captain Michael Hooper were the stand-outs as the Waratahs ran in five tries to two to record a desperately needed victory on Saturday night.
Overlooked by Eddie Jones for his first Wallabies squad of the year, Gordon scored a 40-metre solo try and set up another for centre Izaia Perese as the Tahs tasted success for the first time since round two six weeks ago.
Jones preferred Brumbies pair Nic White and Ryan Lonergan as his two halves to go into camp on the Gold Coast on Sunday, but Gordon would have caught the coach's eye with his man-of-the-match showing at Allianz Stadium.
Unsure about his playing future beyond this World Cup year, Hooper has been below his brilliant best so far in 2023 but the champion flanker also produced his finest game yet just when the Tahs needed it with their season on the line.
Perese's second try of the night a minute from fulltime secured the Waratahs a bonus point.
The victory lifted Darren Coleman's side above the Force into ninth spot, level on competition points with the Fijian Drua but outside the top eight on a countback.
The Waratahs enjoyed all the running in the first half but took a while to convert their territory and possession into points.
They crossed twice in the opening 10 minutes without joy as, first, David Porecki had a driving maul try overturned by the television match official for an obstruction, then Mark Nawaqanitawase failed to ground the ball cleanly with a five-pointer beckoning.
A penalty goal from five-eighth Ben Donaldson was all the home side had to show for their clear dominance until Perese steamed onto a no-look inside pass from Gordon to bag NSW's first try in the 16th minute.
Pinned in their own half, the Force conceded penalty after penalty before referee Angus Gardner finally lost patience and sent Jackson Pugh to the sin bin for collapsing a maul.
The Tahs cashed in on their one-man advantage with Perese turning provider to put Nawaqanitawase over on his right wing.
The Force were desperately trying to hang in the game through the boot of Jake Strachan, who slotted two first-half penalties before Gordon snapped up one of the five-eighth's errant clearing kicks and sped 40 metres to put the Tahs up 22-6 at the break.
Harry Johnson-Holmes put the result beyond doubt when he crashed over midway through the second half.
Force wingers Manasa Mataele and Zach Kibirige collected a couple of consolation tries before Perese had the final say with his second a minute from fulltime.