The Cheetahs clawed back to maintain their unbeaten run in the Currie Cup with a win against the Lions at Ellis Park on Friday night.
It was the Lions who struck first, dashing into a 13-0 lead at the start of the second quarter with a try from winger Stean Pienaar and eight points off the boot of Tiaan Swanepoel.
The Cheetahs sprinted back into the race to trail 20-14 at half time thanks to a brace from Gideon van der Merwe, but the openside flanker was yellow-carded shortly before the break.
Swanepoel and Cheetahs captain Ruan Pienaar exchanged penalties shortly after the restart before Lions lock Junior White was sent to the naughty chair for 10 minutes.
The hosts then succumbed to a succession of brutal carries from the Cheetahs before winger Duncan Saal scored out wide. Pienaar added the extras for a two-point game heading into the final 10 minutes.
He kicked the visitors into the lead for the second time in the match, and Louis van der Westhuizen used the momentum of the maul to dot down before the Cheetahs skipper goaled his third penalty of the half to seal a 35-26 result.
The Cheetahs’ eighth successive win put them back to the top of the table pending the result of the match between the Bulls and Griquas on Saturday.