The Cheetahs ran four tries past the Kings on Saturday to claim a convincing 34-22 win in their South African derby in Port Elizabeth.
The Cheetahs led 13-12 at the interval thanks to a try from centre Johann Sadie on the stroke of half time after the Kings had been in front for most of the first period.
The second half was a different story however as a try from scrum-half Piet van Zyl, a second touchdown from Sadie and one from wing Willie le Roux on the hour mark settled the result.
A late try from Kings replacement scrum-half Nicolas Vergallo added some credibility to the scoreline but it was too little, too late, to save a losing bonus point for the hosts.
With the skilful le Roux a constant threat in the backline, the Cheetahs registered a hard-earned, but decisive victory that keeps them in the hunt for the play-offs.
It was Le Roux who was responsible for unlocking the tight Kings' defence in the last minute of the first half, sending Sadie over for their first try, and then in the 62nd minute, Sadie returned the favour as he made all the running for Le Roux to stroll over for the bonus-point try.
The Cheetahs took a one-point lead into the break, but the Kings, with the inspiring Demetri Catrakilis kicking like a metronome, regained the initiative after he slotted over his fifth penalty soon after the restart. The visitors, however, then took control.
Forcing the Kings to make numerous tackles with a constant attacking approach, and distributing the ball with great control and fluency, the Cheetahs created chances for van Zyl and Sadie, for his second, to cross over for tries.
Fly-half Elgar Watts, who matched Catrakilis's precise goal-kicking, kept the Cheetahs on top by converting all four tries and adding two penalties for a personal tally of 14 points.
After Le Roux scored his try, he left the field with what seemed to be niggling leg injury.
The visitors were made to work hard for their win, but they complemented their attacking strategy with a strong defensive attitude, which they displayed in the last 10 minutes as the Kings tried desperately to close the gap.
They kept out the hosts until the 79th minute when Vergallo scampered over to the joy of the home crowd.
Full-back George Whitehead added the conversion in a pleasing finish for the Kings, but the day's honours belonged indisputably to the high-flying Cheetahs outfit, who bagged their ninth victory of the season.
For the Kings:
Pens: Catrakilis 5
For the Cheetahs:
Tries: Sadie 2, van Zyl, le Roux
Cons: Watts 4
Pens: Watts 2
Southern Kings: 15 SP Marais, 14 Siyanda Grey, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Luke Watson (captain), 6 Wimpie van der Walt, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steve Sykes, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: 16 Virgile Lacombe, 17 Grant Kemp, 18 Rynier Bernado, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Shane Gates, 22 George Whitehead.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Ligtoring Landman, 19 Boom Prinsloo, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Riaan Smit, 22 Raymond Rhule.
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende (South Africa), Christie du Preez (South Africa)
TMO:Johann Meuwessen (South Africa)