We didn't make them work hard enough
Rebels coach Tony McGahan bemoaned the high penalty count and his team's own lack of discipline in the final outing of the season.
The Rebels closed the book on their 2014 Super Rugby season with a disappointing 740 loss to the Bulls at the Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, after trailing by just five points at the break.
Following a shock defeat to the Stormers the previous week, the Bulls edged ahead in a tight first half before blowing the visitors away in the second half by scoring four converted tries to nil.
Bulls' flyhalf Handré Pollard, the current IRB Junior Player of the Year who recently made his senior international debut for the Springboks, had a perfect match with the boot - with four penalties and three conversions.
Colby Fainga'a was a standout performer in his 50th Super Rugby appearance, proving a constant menace to the Bulls at the breakdown while Luke Burgess again provided steady leadership.
Jack Debreczeni, making his first start at his preferred flyhalf position in the place of the injured Bryce Hegarty, showed great promise in attack and scored his first Super Rugby try, but found his kicking radar off on the Highveld.
McGahan said he was "disappointed" with the result, but credited the Bulls for taking their opportunities.
"I thought our first half was fantastic; we attacked and defended really well but probably needed more on the scoreboard to show that at half time," he said.
"In the second half we were dominated through the set piece and gave away field position with some penalties.
"That, coupled with some crucial turnovers, took momentum away from us but you have to give the Bulls credit.
"If you give them 90 metres of field position from back to back penalties, they will take advantage.
"We didn't make them work hard enough for their points, and they did just that."
There was no fairytale finish for Rebels stalwarts Hugh Pyle and Alex Rokobaro, who both started in their final appearances for the club.
The departing Jason Woodward was denied a final game in Pretoria after succumbing to a back injury, while fellow departing Rebels Eddie Aholelei, Lachlan Mitchell, Angus Roberts and Chris Thomson watched from Melbourne.
McGahan thanked the departing Rebels for their work at the franchise, and wished them all the best for their futures.
"We are really thankful for Hugh, Alex and Jason's contribution over this tour and their whole time at the franchise, and also to the other departing Rebels.
"The players gave their all, all seven of them, but it wasn't to be.
"It has been a tough last few weeks of Super Rugby action, and although the players have worked so hard to try and get a result we have fallen short."