The Chiefs made it six victories from seven in Super Rugby with a five-try performance seeing off the Cheetahs 39-33 in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Replacement fly-half Johan Goosen salvaged a losing bonus-point for the home side but it was a deserved five points for the in-form Waikato men.
In a sprightly affair, the Chiefs started much the brighter and had a 10-9 lead at half-time thanks to a Lelia Masaga try and Aaron Cruden's boot.
However, the Cheetah then clicked into gear after the break as Ashley Johnson demonstrated his uncanny ability to make an impact. The soon-to-be Wasps flanker swooped on a Tawera Kerr-Barlow pass to intercept before racing half of the field for a try that looked to have turned the game.
But that proved not to be as the Chiefs had tries from Lelia Masaga, Sona Taumololo (2), Sonny Bill Williams and Richard Kahui to their name.
The Cheetahs showed their intent from the start and were up 3-0 thanks to fly-half Sias Ebersohn, who was in for injury struggling number ten Goosen.
Chiefs pivot Cruden replied soon after with his own penalty to level the scores before the visitors found their stride when, on 20 minutes, wing Masaga scored following a sniping run by Andrew Horrell, who started ahead of Robbie Robinson. Cruden slotted for a 10-3 lead.
Ebersohn kicked two more penalties though before the half-time break to make it 9-10.
The Cheetahs started the second 40 well but an error allowed the Chiefs to go down the other end where try-scoring prop machine Taumalolo burst over the whitewash.
Ebersohn kicked his fourth penalty soon after before the emergence of Johnson from the bench saw him make an almost immediate impact, intercepting and racing 50 metres for a key try. Replacement Goosen stepped up to convert. He then added a 56th minute penalty.
But back came the Chiefs via a Cruden penalty and then Taumalolo was over again.
It seemed like the beginning of the end for the Cheetahs as when inside centre Williams showed power to cross for their fourth try, one sensed the writing was on the wall. And so it proved as centre partner Kahui scored their final try on 74 minutes to make it 39-25.
However, Goosen then crossed for a late consolation and despite missing the conversion, he added a last-second penalty to hand his side a losing bonus-point in Bloemfontein.
Tries: Johnson, Goosen
Pen: Ebersohn 4, Goosen 3
Tries: Masaga, Taumololo 2, SB Williams, Kahui
Con: Cruden 4
Pen: Cruden 2
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Justin Downey, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 George Earle, 3 WP Nel, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Rayno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Andries Ferreira, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Johan Goosen, 22 Philip Snyman.
Chiefs: 15 Andrew Horrell, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Tim Nanai-Williams, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Alex Bradley, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (c), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Arizona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 22 Robbie Robinson.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende (South Africa), Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)
Television match officials: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)