Bulls head coach Nollis Marais believes his side's dropped bonus points against the Rebels and the Reds cost them a place in Super Rugby's quarter-finals.
The three-time champions claimed a 45-25 victory over the Rebels in Round Two and beat the Reds 41-22 in Round Eight, but their failure to outscore their opponents by three or more tries in those encounters meant the Sharks finished above them in the South African Group and will now face the Hurricanes in their play-off in Wellington on Saturday.
The Bulls finished their campaign in style with a 43-17 bonus-point victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday but Marais admitted that those results against the Rebels and Reds proved costly in the end.
"I've been telling Adriaan Strauss about the Reds game and saying I hoped the missed bonus point in that game didn't come back to catch up with us," he told Times Live.
"In both those games we had the bonus points in the bag before losing them. That's the most disappointing aspect.
"We only needed two points to get into the play-offs and our win against the Cheetahs was a great one but we wanted to be in the play-offs.
"It just showed how important bonus points are."