The Force’s visitors went into the fixture on the back of a dreadful six-match losing run and although they ultimately came up short again, proved to be stern opposition for large parts.
Tries from Matt Hodgson and Jayden Hayward in the final four minutes of the first half gave the Force a 15-9 lead going into the break.
Chris Tuatara-Morrison extended the Force’s lead to eight points with his 73rd-minute try, but the Lions remained in contention right towards the end.
Elton Jantjies went over four minutes from time before Marnitz Boshoff’s conversion brought the score to 22-19.
However, Hodgson’s second try of the day ” the team’s bonus-point clincher ” and Hayward’s subsequent kick gave Force the win, leaving them three points behind Waratahs.
Waikato Chiefs’ bid to move into the overall top six took a hit on Saturday as they were hammered 45-8 at Wellington Hurricanes.
Liam Squire cancelled out Andre Taylor’s early opening try as he put Chiefs 8-7 up, but it all went downhill from there.
Tries from Ben Franks and Julian Savea helped the home side into a commanding 21-8 lead and their domination continued after the break.
Savea went over again, while Jack Lam and Brad Shields also got in on the act to move Hurricanes on to 36 points, level with sixth-placed Otago Highlanders, who lost 32-30 at home to Canterbury Crusaders.
The two sides played out an even encounter that looked difficult to call for much of the match, but the pendulum finally swung in the Crusaders’ favour with 16 minutes left.
A try and conversion combination from Nemani Nadolo and Colin Slade saw Crusaders take a 29-18 lead and, although Malakai Fekitoa and Benjamin Robert Smith both went over late on for the hosts, it was not enough.
In the end, Slade’s 70th-minute penalty made the difference, as the Crusaders claimed the slender victory hold on to third overall.
The Stormers looked to use the Force’s win over the Lions in their favour and move six points clear of the South African conference’s bottom club, when they welcome the Cheetahs to the Newlands Rugby Stadium.
First-half tries from Deon Fourie and Kobus van Wyk sent the Stormers well on their way to victory, and they added two more through Siya Kolisi and Sailosi Tagicakibau in the second period to win 33-0, moving them up to third in the South African conference.
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