The Crusaders winning run in Super Rugby has ended in Bloemfontein where the Cheetahs won 33-20, scoring three tries to two
The home side's first-five Sias Ebersohn scored 23 points and his brother Robert also scored a try to leave the Crusaders five points behind the New Zealand conference leaders the Blues.
Tries to Zac Guildford and Dan Carter had the Crusaders ahead 17-16 at half-time but handling errors after the break condemned them to their third loss in 12 matches.
The captain Richie McCaw says the big injury toll from their win over the Stormers in Cape Town last weekend is no excuse for their mistakes.
The Cheetahs are probably out of playoff contention in the South African conference and while this was only their fourth win from 12 matches it was their third in a row -- a franchise record.