Character key in Cheetahs win
Bloemfontein - Cheetahs scrumhalf Piet van Zyl scored two tries in the opening 20 minutes to lay the platform for a 27-13 win over the Reds in their Super Rugby match on Saturday.
The victory put the Cheetahs, who suffered a surprise home reversal last week, back on course for a berth in the playoffs as they moved into seventh place in the standings.
The Reds remain in the playoff places despite a frustrating match which they dominated but little fell for them.
VIDEO: Cheetahs v Reds, highlights
Van Zyl, given a rare run in the starting line-up, used his considerable speed to catch the Reds early as he darted away for a try in the first five minutes.
Another electric burst of pace saw him emerge from behind a maul to cut through the middle and score again in the 24th minute.
Flyhalf Elgar Watts proved effective with the boot as he missed just one of seven kicks at the Free State Stadium.
It was Watts's first full match for the Cheetahs, the fourth flyhalf they have been forced to use in an injury-plagued season. He slotted over five penalties and a conversion.
Replacement winger Ben Lucas scored a late try for the Reds but it proved little consolation.
"It felt like we were defending all game but we showed great character. We didn't want to give up," said home captain Adriaan Strauss. "We were very good on defence and we scrambled well."
"It was a disappointing night for us. We did all we didn't want to do - we didn't execute the last pass properly, we were very loose and we didn't get a chance to build pressure because were making too many mistakes," said Reds skipper James Horwill.
The Australian franchise crossed over the tryline twice only to be called back for forward passes and were held up on the line a further three times.
Tries: Piet van Zyl (2)
Conversion: Elgar Watts
Penalties: Watts (5)
Try: Ben Lucas
Conversion: Quade Cooper
Penalties: Cooper (2)
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Rynhardt Landman, 19 Johannes Prinsloo, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Riaan Smit, 22 Ryno Benjamin
15 Luke Morahan, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Anthony Faingaa, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Ed Quirk, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes
Substitutes: 16 James Hanson, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Ed O'Donoghue, 19 Beau Robinson, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Ben Lucas, 22 Ben Tapuai