Warriors coach Stephen Kearney has accused his team of taking short-cuts in an upset 27-26 loss to the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
The Warriors had the chance to lock up their first finals appearance since 2011 but crumbled to suffer their fourth loss on the road for the season.
Despite a second-half surge after trailing by eight points at the break, the 35-metre field goal to Lachlan Lewis delayed the Warriors' top-eight ticket for at least another week.
Goalkicking too proved the difference, with halfback Shaun Johnson missing two attempts from out wide, while Bulldogs forward Rhyse Martin slotted every conversion.
"The stats say we ran for more metres and scored more tries but I thought we lacked early in the first half, their early tries... that wasn't us or our game in terms of the tries were too easy," Kearney said.
"Credit to them, I reckon they've had a positive month of footy, the Bulldogs. We knew it was going to be a hard job for us. I thought we were a little bit off in certain areas which is disappointing what potentially was at stake."
The Warriors will return to New Zealand for two home games against the Panthers and Raiders after a solid 8-4 record travelling to Australia in 2018 – a vast improvement on previous seasons.
Match Highlights: Bulldogs v Warriors - Round 23, 2018
Kearney though was reluctant to talk about the finals, focusing instead on the short-term lapse costing the side on Sunday.
"I'm focused on making sure we improve on areas we're not doing so well," he said.
"There's a fair bit of disappointment in the sheds, we let ourselves down. A couple of effort areas really weren't quite good enough. I just thought there were a couple of short-cuts that weren't in our game the last couple of weeks.
"You just can't do that in this competition. You've got to make sure you're not taking short-cuts."
Warriors pair Gerard Beale (hamstring) and Blake Green (calf) will be monitored early in the week while Johnson picked up an ankle complaint in the second half but finished the game.