Australia 35-34 Scotland: Scots left angry as ref's late call denies famous win
Scotland appeared to have been robbed of a place in the World Cup semi-finals by referee Craig Joubert after Australia were incorrectly awarded a penalty that Bernard Foley kicked to clinch a last-gasp 35-34 victory.
Having seized a 34-32 lead in the 74th minute through a converted Mark Bennett try, Scotland were left shattered when Joubert penalised replacement prop Jon Welsh for offside and Foley obliged with the three points.
Joubert blew the final whistle at Twickenham and then sprinted from the pitch amid a crescendo of boos, knowing he had made a hugely unpopular decision which later proved to be erroneous.
Australia scrum-half Nick Phipps admitted afterwards he deliberately attempted to win the loose ball that then struck Scotland openside John Hardie, his intent clearing Hardie of transgression.
Joubert's judgment and rapid departure from the field provoked a furious response from former players.
Scotland great Gavin Hastings said: "If I see referee Craig Joubert again, I am going to tell him how disgusted I am. It was disgraceful that he ran straight off the pitch at the end like that."
Dejected Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw, who kicked 19 points, highlighted Joubert's uncertainty when making the decision.
"I asked Joubert (about the penalty) on several occasions. I'm not sure what the protocols are," Laidlaw said.
"I think you can see from the way he was taking his time.... he was having a look at the big screen and wasn't sure himself.
"And then he made a sharp exit. I never got a chance to speak to him after the game.
"It looked to me that it hit Nick Phipps and it went back and then another player caught it. But we're not the type of people to blame the little things."
Twickenham was willing Scotland on to victory in one of the great World Cup quarter-finals and they appeared to have done enough to have toppled the second favourites with tries from Peter Horne, Tommy Seymour and Bennett - until Joubert intervened.
Laidlaw added: "At this moment in time it's very hard to take. It's a very upset dressing room as you can imagine. We've made big strides since the Six Nations.
"We were one kick away from being in the semi-finals and arguably we should have been there.
"Now is not the time to move forward, we need to get over this disappointment first. We've got the makings of a strong team.
"The spirit of our side is unbreakable at times and that's the spirit we've had throughout the tournament.
"We're a tight-knit group and there are no egos. Every man works as hard as the next."
Scotland head coach Vern Cotter observed a dignified silence over the decision that set up a semi-final between Australia and Argentina at Twickenham next Sunday.
"I didn't see the referee leave the pitch. We'll take time to review the end of the game properly. We need to take the emotion out of it," Cotter said.
"I feel for these guys. It was a tough day and you can question those fine margins.
"They stayed in the game and I'm proud of them. It's a tough one to take."
Australia: Tries: Ashley-Cooper, Mitchell 2, Hooper, Kuridrani. Cons: Foley 2. Pens: Foley 2.
Australia: Beale, Ashley-Cooper, Kuridrani, Giteau, Mitchell, Foley, Genia, Sio, Moore, Kepu, Douglas, Simmons, Fardy, Hooper, McCalman.
Replacements: Phipps for Genia (71), Slipper for Sio (50), Polota-Nau for Moore (62), Holmes for Kepu (54), Mumm for Simmons (65).
Not Used: McMahon, Toomua, Cooper.
Scotland: Tries: Horne, Seymour, Bennett. Cons: Laidlaw 2. Pens: Laidlaw 5.
Scotland: Hogg, Maitland, Bennett, Horne, Seymour, Russell, Laidlaw, Dickinson, Ford, Nel, R. Gray, J. Gray, Cowan, Hardie, Denton.
Replacements: Vernon for Horne (71), Lamont for Seymour (63), Reid for Dickinson (47), Brown for Ford (54), Welsh for Nel (75), Swinson for J. Gray (67), Strauss for Cowan (67).
Not Used: Pyrgos.
Sin Bin: Maitland (42).
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa).