Coach Clayton McMillan said he believed their hopes were terminal, while captain and halfback Brad Weber said he couldn't see New Zealand teams suffering the losses they would need to squeeze into the final.
But both believe that having put in so much hard work, as a young side, they were not prepared to throw it all away. They were looking to apply the lessons learned in their remaining games.
McMillan said Super Rugby Aotearoa had given them no favours, but they had scrapped all the way to make the final. That was the sort of team they were, and they intended to continue.
Weber said it could have been a good story to tell if they had been able to get back up to win. The players who remained, after first five-eighths Damian McKenzie's red card, found the challenge exciting. The messaging had been good and there was no lack of belief. If there had been a few minutes more, they might have done it, but it wasn't to be, he said.
"We're probably no chance of making the final now, I imagine. We're all pretty disappointed, a missed opportunity to put ourselves right in the hunt, and we blew it tonight.
“I can't see three of the other four New Zealand teams losing a game from here, which we'd need.”
"We're all pretty disappointed. It's a missed opportunity to put ourselves right in the hunt for the final," he said.
McMillan said there was a risk involved any time players went anywhere close to the opposing player's head in a tackle.
"I don't want to hang Damian out to dry, because he's pretty bloody brave for a young fellow, and the amount of times he's won us games off the back of his boot, but also his defence more than his attack.
"He got it a little bit wrong there, and paid the price," he said.
The side had fought to the end and was able to field a replacement for McKenzie after 20 minutes.
"We showed a lot of character to stick in the fight and make it close at the end, but we'll look back at our inaccuracies and ill-discipline in the first half. You just can't be that poor against quality sides, and we got punished for it."
At the same time, he said the Reds deserved credit, as they would have been disappointed over their loss to the Crusaders a week earlier.
"We always expected a response and unfortunately for us we opened the door for that in helping them do that. But good on them, good teams can cash in on those opportunities you present," he said.
McMillan was disappointed that the scrum, previously a strength, had been wobbly and they hadn't held onto the ball long enough. They showed that when they did hold on, they could put the Reds under pressure.
"We were at sixes and sevens at times, but we didn't do that often enough to create pressure to score points so those are things we just need to tidy up," he said.
"That's the nature of the beast at this level, the margins are fine. Even though some of the scores have tended to blow out, you don't have to be too far off your game to get punished, and we learnt that lesson today," he said.