Leinster slipped to their first Guinness PRO14 defeat of the season in Bloemfontein despite a hat-trick of Barry Daly tries as Cheetahs secured a 38-19 victory.
The hosts were initially reliant on the kicking of Ernst Stapelberg, with his four penalties keeping Cheetahs ahead for much of the first half despite Daly crossing for a fifth-minute try in the left corner.
William Small-Smith scored Cheetahs' first try of the night two minutes before the interval, and Stapelberg's successful conversion gave them a 19-5 half-time lead.
The Irish side's task was made harder when hooker James Tracy was shown a yellow card shortly after the break, and Cheetahs made their numerical advantage tell as Torsten van Jaarsveld bundled over from a maul.
The hosts' forwards were proving too hot to handle as Ox Nche went over from a lineout, with Stapelberg adding the extras, although Daly scored his second of the night on the hour mark and Ross Byrne kicked the conversion.
Winger Daly completed his hat-trick after 74 minutes after getting in down the left flank, but Luther Obi ended any hopes of a comeback with a length of the field effort late on.