The Cheetahs romped to a 59-10 win over the Lions in Welkom on Saturday to move above the Chiefs and cap their best ever Super 14 season.
The result also brings a dismal season to an embarrassing end for the Lions, who became the first team in Super Rugby history to fail to win a single game in a season.
It was one-way traffic from start to finish as the Cheetahs entertained the crowd by giving the ball plenty of air and scoring nine tries.
It took the Cheetahs less than twenty minutes to secure a four-try bonus point as the Lions once again put on a display of how not to defend.
As has becomes costumery in Lions games this season, the scoreboard was ticking early as Cheetahs Bjorn Basson touched down after just five minutes when he collected his own chip ahead while flying along the touch line.
Five minutes later the hosts were over the line again, this time in a pile of bodies as the Cheetahs mauled their way to five more points from a line-out. Scrum-half Sarel Pretorius was awarded the try by the TMO and Naas Olivier added the conversion to extend the lead to 12-0.
Visiting fly-half Herkie Kruger pulled back three points from the kicking tee, but before the Lions could say 'welcome to Welkom,' Pretorius and Basson had each scored their second try.
Pretorius sniped through gap on the fringe of a ruck from short range before Basson used his pace to coast over. Olivier' extras took the score to 26-3 at the end of the first quarter.
Barend Pieterse was next to crash over as the Lions defence ran out of numbers before Corne Uys added his name to the score sheet just before half time when he ran in on an angle to collect Olivier's pass and bust through.
The Lions would have been relieved to hear the half-time whistle with score reading 38-3!
The visitors finally managed to score a try when the Cheetahs 'attack from everywhere' policy backfired and replacement Michael Killian could pick up a loose ball and trot under the posts untouched.
It didn't take long for the Free Staters to get back into the swing of things however and Hennie Daniller scored twice in the space to ten minutes to send the Cheetahs past the 50-point barrier.
In the dying minutes Coenie Oosthuizen bashed his way over the line for the Cheetahs ninth try and giving them a superior points difference to last year's finalists, the Chiefs.
Man of the match: A live wire in open play Sarel Pretorius get our award for his two tries.
For the Cheetahs:
Tries: Basson 2, Pretorius 2, Pieterse, Uys, Daniller 2, Oosthuizen
Cons: Olivier 6, Strydom
For the Lions:
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Corne Uys, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Phillip van der Walt, 7 Juan Smith (c), 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Barend Pieterse, 4 Izak van der Westhuizen, 3 WP Nel, 2 Skipper Badenhorst, 1 Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Marnus Hugo, 21 Riaan Viljoen, 22 Louis Strydom.
Lions: 15 Carlos Spencer, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Marius Delport, 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Deon Van Rensburg, 10 Herkie Kruger, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Derick Minnie, 7 Franco Van der Merwe, 6 Wikus Van Heerden, 5 George Earle, 4 Nico Luus, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Charles Emslie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Hannes Franklin, 17 Gert Muller, 18 David Bulbring, 19 Jonathan Mokuena, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Michael Killian, 22 Bernardo Botha.