The Reds' hopes of reaching the Super Rugby finals were ended as they were beaten 19-13 by the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday.
Despite a dominant performance without captain Samu Kerevi, who was rested as part of Rugby Australia's workload management policy, Reds were caught open on the counter and failed to make the most of their opportunities at the other end.
Angus Scott-Young and Alex Mafi were both denied by tries by the television match official and the ruthless Chiefs took full advantage, Pita Sowakula, Atunaisa Moli and Etene Nanai-Seturo crossing to put them 13 points ahead by the break.
Taniela Tupou's try offered hope, but relentless Reds pressure failed to crack a dogged Chiefs defence.
Elsewhere, a Tevita Kuridrani hat-trick ensured that the Brumbies claimed a 22-10 victory over the Bulls to strengthen their lead at the top of the Australian Conference.
Having scored a double by half-time, touching down either side of Hanro Liebenberg's try for the visitors, Kuridrani capped off his performance by crossing for a third time in the 57th minute.
Brumbies’ victory extends their lead over the Rebels – who face the Sunwolves on Saturday - at the top of the table.