Golden Lions looked capable of ending Free State Cheetahs' unbeaten record, but a yellow card for Fabian Booysen proved costly.
Free State Cheetahs produced a rousing second-half comeback to maintain their perfect Currie Cup record with a 37-29 victory over Golden Lions on Thursday.
Reigning champions Lions led 26-15 at half-time in Bloemfontein, following an opening period that saw both sides temporarily lose players to yellow cards.
However, a third sin-binning - early in the second half - proved significant as Free State capitalised on Fabian Booysen being punished for a cynical foul with 10 minutes off the field.
Tries from Shaun Venter and Rayno Benjamin swiftly followed, putting the Cheetahs in front by a point before Niel Marais and Jaco van der Walt exchanged penalties.
Victory for the hosts was secured in the 79th minute as replacement Tian Meyer dashed over for a try Marais converted.
The Cheetahs have now won six from six, while Golden Lions, who remain fifth, face a battle to make the semi-finals.