Blues' finals hopes end in Bloemfontein
The Cheetahs claimed their first Super Rugby play-off spot with a 34-13 win over the Blues at the Free State Stadium on Sunday (NZT).
The Cheetahs, who grab four extra competition points from next week's bye, will join the Chiefs, Bulls, Brumbies, Crusaders and Reds as the final six teams to go through to the Investec Super Rugby knockout stages.
The Blues' playoff bid was already on shaky ground after a late Sharks' try sent them to defeat in the previous round.
The situation only got worse against the Cheetahs, and looked a long way short of title-contending material in what has become a disappointing end to a season that started with victories over the Hurricanes and Crusaders.
Poor ball security and a questionable kicking game saw the Blues trailiing 10-19 halfway through the contest.
Their most dangerous attacking weapon, Rene Ranger,was out of the action for most of the contest playing on the wing. By the time Kirwan shifted him to centre late in the game it was too late.
In the final quarter the Cheetahs powered home through tries to replacements Sarel Pretorius and Boom Prinsloo.
Jamison Gibson-Park had crossed in the fifth minute for the Blues, but that was as good as it would get for the usually electrifying franchise.
The Blues wrap up their season with a final regular season game against the defending champions, the Chiefs, at Eden Park on Saturday.
Cheetahs: 34 (Van der Walt, Pretorius, Prinsloo tries; Smit 2 cons, 5 pens)
Blues: 13 (Gibson-Park try; Kerr con, 2 pens)