The Force held on to win 19-18 and extend their Super Rugby winning streak over the Highlanders at nib Stadium in Perth.
The Force have now won their last five consecutive matches across all venues against the Highlanders.
The result keeps the Western Force in 14th place but they now have a six point lead over the last placed Highlanders and look likely to miss out coming last.
For the New Zealand side, the result means they are almost certain to claim the wooden spoon this year.
Although the Force only ran in the only try in a match dominated by the kicking games of both sides, the boot of Jayden Hayward held the Highlanders at bay.
Hayward scored 14 points and also set up the game's only try.
After the Highlanders hit the lead through a Colin Slade long-range penalty in the 76th minute, Hayward won a penalty 60 seconds later when he was taken out by substitute Tino Nemani after kicking the ball.
Hayward stepped up and cooly slotted the penalty to put the Force back in front.
The Force had generally looked the best side for most of the match, dominating possession but struggling to crack the defence of the Highlanders.
They looked certain to score early in the match when they put together 23 phases as they camped on the try line, but the Highlanders held firm in defence.
But in the 17th minute Hayward made a break down the right side line and the ball ended up with Sias Ebersohn, who dived over in the corner for his first try since 2011.
Hayward converted to give the home side a 7-0 lead and reward them for their early energy.
The two sides then traded penalties, the Force leading 10-6 at the break, until the final 20 minutes saw the Highlanders finally click into gear and produce their most cohesive rugby of the match.
They were narrowly denied a try in the 62nd minute, when Ma'a Nonu slid in against the post and the video referee was called upon, but it was impossible to be certain he grounded the ball, and it was ruled to have been held up.
The Highlanders had a last gasp chance to snatch the win, but Slade knocked on.
Force captain Matt Hodgson said his team showed great resilience to hang on for the win.
"I'm proud of the boys," he said.
"It was not the prettiest of games in the second half, but we didn't let a try in.
"If we get our attack to match our defence we will be a great side."
Highlanders skipper Brad Thorn lamented errors from his side.
"It was another disappointing one," he said.
"It was just the little things, they are hard lessons and hopefully (at) some stage this year we will learn them."
Final Score Force 19 (10) Highlanders 18 (6)
Tries - S.Ebersohn
Pen - J.Hayward 4
Con - J.Hayward
Cards - A. Mathewson (yellow 61st min)
Pen - H.Parker 2, C.Slade 4
Referee: Andrew Lees
Assistant Ref 1:Ian Smith
Assistant Ref 2:Michael Hogan
TMO : George Ayoub
1. Pek Cowan,2. Heath Tessmann,3. Kieran Longbottom,4. Toby Lynn ,5. Sam Wykes,6. Matt Hodgson (c),7. Chris Alcock,8. Ben McCalman ,9. Alby Mathewson ,10. Sias Ebersohn,11. Nick Cummins,12. Kyle Godwin,13. Ben Jacobs ,14. Patrick Dellit ,15. Jayden Hayward
Replacements : 16. James Hilterbrand,17. Tetera Faulkner,18. Rory Walton,19. Richard Brown ,20. Brett Sheehan,21. Junior Rasolea,22. Sam Norton-Knight
1. Tony Woodcock ,2. Liam Coltman ,3. Ma'afu Fia ,4. Brad Thorn (captain) ,5. Josh Bekhuis ,6. TJ Ioane,7. John Hardie,8. Mose Tuiali'i,9. Aaron Smith ,10. Hayden Parker ,11. Hosea Gear (vice-captain),12. Ma'a Nonu ,13. Tamati Ellison ,14. Jason Emery ,15. Ben Smith
Replacements : 16. Andrew Hore ,17. Bronson Murray ,18. Joe Wheeler ,19. Elliot Dixon ,20. Fumiaki Tanaka ,21. Colin Slade ,22. Tino Nemani