Glen Innes export Alex Newsome completed his debut Super Rugby season with a try as the Western Force sent inspirational skipper Matt Hogdson out a winner in Perth on Saturday night.
Fighting to remain in the competition next season, the Force wrapped up second spot in the Australian conference with a 40-11 thumping of the NSW Waratahs.
It took just 52 seconds for the Force to break open the Waratahs' defence as Newsome streaked away off the back of an excellent run from Curtis Rona, for his fifth try of the season from 13 appearances.
The 29-point demolition brought to a close one of the Waratahs’ worst years on record.
They were taught a lesson in wet-weather football and outclassed in all departments in a five-tries-to-one shellacking.
Coach Daryl Gibson was forced to defend his side, and rejected the suggestion NSW stopped trying when it became clear the finals had slipped beyond their grasp.
Basic skills were absent and players gave the impression they could not wait for an arduous season to come to an end.
"It's fair to say we're pretty low," Gibson said.
"It's been a season of lows and to finish off in that manner is incredibly disappointing. Credit to the Force, they played better wet weather rugby and thoroughly deserved their win. They showed a lot of fight and desire.
"I don't think we'd ever put up the white flag but certainly that losing spiral is a difficult one to break. They played excellent and deserved their win."
Four wins from 15 games does not make for pretty reading and Gibson has taken responsibility for being unable to get the most out of his players.
Captain Michael Hooper said it was a case of 'I can't believe we're here again', when the Waratahs fell behind 14-3 in the space of 14 minutes.
"We just couldn't turn that around for a lot of games this year and when we did find ourselves there, that spiral was a hard one to break, particularly in wet weather rugby,” he said.
It was a bleak weekend for the Australian sides with the Melbourne Rebels, Queensland Reds and ACT Brumbies all suffering losses.
The Brumbies went down to the Chiefs 28-10 in Hamilton on Saturday afternoon, but will get a shot at Kiwi redemption in a quarter-final at Canberra Stadium.
They will host the Hurricanes in the first week of the play-offs and have to end Australia's 31-match losing streak against New Zealand rivals to keep their season alive. The Brumbies haven't beaten a New Zealand side since round one last year, ironically against the Hurricanes, and New Zealand teams won all 25 trans-Tasman contests this season in a ruthless campaign.