Lionel Mapoe scored a hat-trick as the Lions signed off their first season back in Super Rugby with a 60-25 win over the Cheetahs.
The Lions scored eight tries in total at Ellis Park as they finished 12th in the Super XV and fourth in the South African conference, moving above their opponents. Elton Jantjies added 20 points with the boot.
Cornal Hendricks crossed twice for the Cheetahs but his efforts were in vain as his side were outclassed.
After penalties for rival fly-halves Johan Goosen and Jantjies, the Cheetahs scored the first try through full-back Willie le Roux.
But another Jantjies penalty cut the deficit before the Lions went ahead for the first time when Mapoe crossed after good work by Stokkies Hanekom and Jantjies.
Philip van der Walt was the first of three Cheetahs players to be shown yellow cards but they soon levelled the scores with a Goosen penalty.
But the closing stages of Van der Walt's 10-minute absence saw the Lions score two tries, through Ross Cronje and Mapoe, to lead 27-13 at half-time.
Jantjies was yellow-carded just before the interval and Hendricks scored with him off the field, but the same fate befell the Cheetahs once more with Coenie Oosthuizen sin-binned and Robbie Coetzee touching down.
Warren Whiteley and Andries Coetzee extended the lead and though Hendricks pulled a try back, Mapoe and Corne Fourie wrapped up victory.