A fine kicking display by Sias Ebersohn guided his side to a well deserved 28-22 victory over Western Province in Bloemfontein.
The fly-half was his team's hero as he contributed 23 points, via seven penalties and a conversion.
This was particularly significant as the Cheetahs were trailing WP 13-9 at half-time.
Ebersohn and WP pivot Demetri Catrakilis were involved in a kicking duel from the early stages of the first half.
The pair trade penalties for most of the match, and Catrakilis contributed 17 points for the visitors, through five penalties and a conversion.
However, it was Ebersohn who won the battle of the boot. Apart from outscoring his opposite number, he also managed to slot all his attempts on goal whereas Catrakilis failed with one penalty attempt.
WP opened the scoring in the eighth minute through a penalty by Catrakilis before a brilliant try by Johann Sadie put daylight between them and their hosts.
After receiving the ball on the halfway line from Conrad Jantjes, Sadie tore the Cheetahs defence to shreds with an outrageous dummy, before outpacing the cover defence, to score in the left-hand corner.
Catrakilis' fine start wasn't restricted to his goalkicking, and he frustrated the home side during the opening stanza, by keeping them pinned in their own half with fine tactical kicking.
The young pivot also impressed by varying his play well to keep his team on the front-foot during this period.
As the match progressed, mistakes crept into WP's game, and when it occurred within goalkicking range, Ebersohn made them pay for these indiscretions.
The visitors' ill discipline was highlighted when their replacement lock Adriaan Fondse received a yellow card in the 67th minute, after an off-the-ball incident.
By this time, the Cheetahs had taken the lead, and with 14 men on the field, WP faced an uphill battle in their quest for victory.
The home side's only try came in the 73rd minute, when replacement centre and former WP player Corne Uys intercepted a loose pass close to the halfway line by Brok Harris, to score under the posts.
After Ebersohn's conversion the score was 28-19, and although WP managed to narrow the gap through another Catrakilis penalty shortly afterwards, there wasn't enough time left on the clock for them to go for a match-winning try.
For Free State Cheetahs:
Try: C Uys
Con: S Ebersohn
Pens: Ebersohn 7
For Western Province:
Pens: Catrakilis 5
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Ryno Benjamin, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Johan Wessels, 5 Waltie Vermeulen, 4 Francois Uys, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Marcel van der Merwe, 18 Izak van der Westhuizen, 19 Heinrich Brussow, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Corne Uys, 22 Philip Burger.
Western Province: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 JJ Engelbrecht, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nick Koster, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Rohan Kitshoff, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg (c), 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Adriaan Fondse, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Berton Klaasen, 22 Marcel Brache.
Referee: Sindile Mayende