Western Force will be bristling with self belief as they head for round two of their Super Rugby South African tour against the Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday night after their gutsy 23-16 win over the Cheetahs.

The seventh win in a resurgent season equalled Force's best win record in 2007 and lifted them to fifth on the ladder.

The win in Bloemfontein came in the face of overwhelming possession by the home side, and broke a three-game losing streak against the Cheetahs.

Discipline, patience and determined defence, qualities often lost in the heat of battle in previous years, are now second nature but there is an old saying in rugby that forwards win games - backs just decide by how many points.

And that was exactly how it was at Free State Stadium on Saturday night.

The side was galvanised by an extraordinary performance from captain Matt Hodgson who, despite spending 10 minutes in the sin-bin, still took the man-of-the-match award.

Inevitably, it was Hodgson who sparked the Force's first try, pilfering turnover ball that went through several pairs of hands and 85m before full-back Jayden Hayward touched down.

And Hayward set his side on the road for the second try, intercepting the ball 65m out and, after several phases, winger Nick Cummins went over for his sixth try of the season.

But it was Hodgson and the other seven forwards around him that laid the groundwork for the win, particularly in the scrum.

The Force were able to contain the Cheetahs' spoiling tactic of not taking the initial impact on engagement.

The scrum remained dominant in the later stages when coach Michael Foley brought on a new front row.

"To get a result here is absolutely fantastic," Foley said.

"We scrummed well, all of the forwards contributed to that. The Cheetahs have been very disruptive and caused a few problems for teams so it was good to get that bit right.

"They have built a lot of penalties from hitting and pulling back at the scrum engagement. Once they milk that penalty the other team becomes a bit apprehensive on the engagement, stops pushing and they attack you.

"You are damned if you do, damned if you don't, but our guys managed it well.

"The referee was aware of that and also managed it well."

Force prop Pek Cowan, a veteran of the dark arts of the front row, said the side had belief and trust in each other.

"I felt we had dominance and a lot stems from that," Cowan said.

"We composed ourselves, especially in the first half, to give ourselves the opportunity at the end.

"The side has gone from belief to a trust in each other. There's a confidence now."

Force fly-half Sias Ebersohn left the field with a knee injury and winger Dane Haylett-Petty picked up a groin injury.

The West Australian

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