Western Force players have a spring in their step after a rewarding two-hour stint as Waratahs fans, but it will be back to business on Tuesday when they attempt to keep their slim finals hopes alive.
The Waratahs smashed their Dunedin hoodoo on Sunday in posting a 32-20 Super Rugby Pacific win over the Highlanders.
The result means the Force still have a chance of leapfrogging the Melbourne Rebels and Highlanders into eighth spot.
That in itself is remarkable given the Force have a 2-10 record and are in the midst of a seven-match losing run, which includes last Saturday's 54-21 loss to the Chiefs.
The Force take on last-placed Moana Pasifika in Auckland on Tuesday before rounding out their campaign with a home game against the fifth-placed Hurricanes on Saturday night.
For the Force to secure a finals berth, they will need to win both matches and achieve at least one bonus point, then rely on the Rebels to beat the Highlanders on Sunday.
Force coach Tim Sampson said the Waratahs' shock win over the Highlanders had injected a dose of cheer into his squad.
"When we pulled up at the team hotel on the bus, I said to the fellas to go upstairs and cheer the Waratahs home, and put a bit of sky blue on for the first and last time," Sampson said.
"It worked our way. It genuinely gives us something to play for now, so they are in good spirits.
"We've gone through a pretty lengthy losing streak, and to have something to play for - it does energise the guys.
"We're craving this win, and there's good signs, smiling faces."
The Force desperately need to snare the bonus point against Moana, meaning they will need to score at least three tries more than their opponents.
If they beat Moana without a bonus point, the Force will need a bonus-point win against the powerful Hurricanes in what would be a far more daunting task.
Sampson said his players could not afford to have the bonus point at the front of their minds heading into Tuesday's match.
"I had a chat to a couple of the leaders today just around our management of that," Sampson said.
"It's a classic (case of) where you play the first 40 minutes to set up the win, and the second half (to chase the bonus point) if it's looking likely."
The Force have been boosted by the return of star winger Manasa Mataele, while former All Black Richard Kahui will start at inside centre.
FORCE: Jake McIntyre, Toni Pulu, Byron Ralston, Richard Kahui, Manasa Mataele, Reesjan Pasitoa, Ian Prior (capt), Jackson Pugh, Tim Anstee, Fergus Lee-Warner, Jeremy Thrush, Ryan McCauley, Santiago Medrano, Andrew Ready, Tom Robertson. Res: Feleti Kaitu'u, Angus Wagner, Bo Abra, Izack Rodda, Jack Winchester, Michael McDonald, Kyle Godwin, Brad Lacey.
Australian Associated Press
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