We did all the things that we said we didn't want to do
Reds captain James Horwill admitted that his team made things difficult for themselves against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
After the Brumbies lost to the Waratahs earlier on Saturday, the Brisbane side played for the top spot in the Australian conference.
However, their inability to finish promising attacks, coupled with several unforced errors, meant the visitors had to play catch-up from the first whistle.
"It was a disappointing night for us," Horwill said.
"We did all the things that we said we didn't want to do. We gave the Cheetahs a lot of unstructured ball to play with and didn't hold on to our own possession.
"We were very loose. We wanted to be direct in our approach and hold on to the ball. We wanted to put them under pressure, but we couldn't build pressure because of all the mistakes."
Horwill complimented the Cheetahs on a solid defensive performance.
"They worked very hard on defence and were very desperate," he said.
"We needed to be better in our attack and they were very desperate on defence to hold us out.
"We are two very attack-minded sides that want to play and that showed in the amount of running that was out there."