Cardiff Blues ended their four-game winless run in the Guinness PRO14 with a 30-17 victory over the 14-man Cheetahs.
The Blues looked to be cruising towards a morale-boosting triumph after Gerhard Olivier’s red card for a reckless shoulder charge.
But the visitors rallied in the face of adversity and cancelled out Aled Summerhill’s early score through full-back Rhyno Smith and winger Clayton Blommetjies.
The man advantage took its toll on the stamina-drained Cheetahs in the second period as a Josh Turnbull score and 14 points from the boot of Jarrod Evans secured a vital win for the Welsh side.
Cardiff were looking to end their miserable run of form against a Cheetahs side who were struggling on the road.
They got off to a positive start when Jason Tovey put them three points ahead with a penalty from 45 metres out.
John Mulvihill’s side looked anything but a team lacking confidence as Harri Millard burst 50 metres downfield, only to see Summerhill lose his footing with the tryline gaping.
But it was second time lucky for Summerhill after the ball was recycled and moved through the hands before Millard broke free again out wide to put Summerhill over at the corner after nine minutes.
If things were not difficult enough for the Cheetahs with 15 men, they got a whole lot harder when number eight Jasper Wiese was shown a red card for a shoulder charge to the head of Tovey at a ruck in the 15th minute.
But the dismissal sparked the Cheetahs into life and they were back within four points after 28 minutes when Ruan Pienaar caught the defence napping with a quick tap.
Anthony Volmnick raced downfield and handed the ball off for Smith to score, with Pienaar converting to make it 11-7.
They were ahead four minutes later when Junior Pokomela pounced on a loose ball from a 22-metre dropout, sprinted 50 metres and offloaded to wing Blommetjies.
Pienaar converted but Evans landed a pair of penalties before the break with the Cheetahs down to 13 men after Olivier’s sin-binning to give the Blues a 17-14 lead at the interval.
Turnbull crossed at the corner six minutes after the restart after Willis Halaholo used his elusive footwork to get in behind the defence.
Evans converted and kicked another penalty to to give Mulvihill’s men breathing space at 30-17.
Late yellow cards fort Kieron Assirati and Evans made for a nervy finish, but the Blues held on for victory.