A last-minute score from Piet van Zyl saw the Cheetahs get on the board in Super Rugby 2012 as they edged the Rebels 33-26 in Melbourne on Sunday.
In a frantic end at AAMI Stadium, the replacement scrum-half finished off good work from the visitors to take a result that ended a run of three losses.
Victory leaves the Blues and Force level on points at the foot of the Super Rugby table while the Rebels and Cheetahs are one point above them.
The last game of Week Four was played under excellent conditions and it was Naka Drotske's side who started the better, as Willie le Roux crossed for a try with barely two minutes gone. Johan Goosen's conversion made it 0-7.
Melbourne were clearly not up to full pace at kick-off but managed to find their rhythm soon after when good line-out work saw them maul the Cheetahs over the whitewash, with Adam Freier the last man to his feet. James O'Connor, who was playing fly-half, added the levelling extras.
The early scores were not done there though as when O'Connor threw a loose pass on his own 22, Le Roux was on hand to collect and cruise over for a score that took the Cheetahs back out to a seven-point advantage.
Seven soon became thirteen as with 23 minutes played, two Goosen penalties put the Free State side in a stronger position. O'Connor did reply to make the score 10-20 at half-time.
Damien Hill was clearly unhappy and subsequently made changes at the break as hooker Ged Robinson, fly-half Danny Cipriani and flanker Jarrod Saffy emerged for the start of the second-half. And it seemed to work as now centre O'Connor scored a penalty, stepped through two tacklers for a converted try by 50 minutes. The game was tied in Melbourne.
Goosen and O'Connor then traded two penalties apiece as the game looked to be heading for a draw, which wasn't what either team would be content with. But then came the moment of magic from Van Zyl as he finished off good initial work from Adriaan Strauss and busy replacement Ashley Johnson to go in close to the touchline. Goosen added the gloss.
Tries: Freier, O'Connor
Con: O'Connor 2
Pen: O'Connor 4
Tries: Le Roux 2, Van Zyl
Con: Goosen 3
Pen: Goosen 4
Rebels: 15 Julian Huxley, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Mark Gerrard, 12 Lloyd Johansson, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 James O'Connor, 9 Richard Kingi, 8 Gareth Delve (capt), 7 Tom Chamberlain, 6 Tim Davidson, 5 Hugh Pyle, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Adam Freier, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Rodney Blake, 18 Alister Campbell, 19 Jarrod Saffy, 20 Nick Phipps, 21 Danny Cipriani, 22 James Hilgendorf.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Cameron Jacobs, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Davon Raubenheimer, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 George Earle, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Justin Downey, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Rayno Benjamin.
Referee: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)