Bulls captain Flip van der Merwe has admitted that their 32-21 Super Rugby loss to the Lions at Ellis Park makes it unlikely that they make the play offs.
Van der Merwe's Bulls have lost all of their away matches this season and they still have to play the Stormers away in Cape Town.
The Bulls captain said that their loss to the Lions epitomised the three-time champions' season.
"It summed up our season, there were a lot of faults at crucial times, " said Van der Merwe after the match.
"We were definitely in the game, we played some good rugby but the Lions played Bulls rugby against us very well."
The loss made the Sharks the South African Conference winners as no other South African team can catch them this season.
The Bulls are in ninth position in the overall standings with 33 points and, with just two games remaining after the international break, they trail the sixth-placed Hurricanes by four points.
But the Chiefs (35pts), Western Force (36pts) and Highlanders (38pts) are also all ahead of the Bulls and have three matches to play, while the Brumbies are fourth with 40 points with two games left.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said the team's lack of accuracy on attack had again cost them dearly, as it has in so many of their away games this season.
"The big story was our finishing, we weren't clinical. We played some good rugby, stringing phases together, but then penalties in the Lions' half would break our progress, that's where the momentum swung their way.
"When things aren't going your way, you need a big moment to ignite the team and it just wasn't there. "
"It's disappointing, we played against ourselves but we still feel there's a small chance of making the playoffs," Ludeke said.
The Bulls have made appearances in the Super Rugby play offs every year since 2005 with the exception of 2011 and 2008.
In 2007, 2009 and 2010 they were crowned Super (14) Rugby champions.