Rugby fans have taken to social media in outrage after the Wallabies' controversial Bledisloe Cup defeat to New Zealand in Melbourne on Thursday night.
The Aussies looked poised to secure a famous win in the dying seconds of the clash, as they aimed to wrestle back the Cup after 20 years of heartache.
After winning a penalty near their own try line with the seconds ticking down, the Wallabies looked home and hosed until Bernard Foley was contentiously penalised for time-wasting.
Foley was just about to kick the ball into touch when French referee Mathieu Raynal made the rare call to sanction the veteran five-eighth for time-wasting.
It gave New Zealand a scrum at close range and they spread the ball wide to fullback Jordie Barrett, who crossed for the last-minute match-winner.
Coach Dave Rennie said Foley was shattered by what unfolded after he had helped the Wallabies close an 18-point deficit in the second half.
He said that Foley thought the clock was off, so there was no urgency to play on.
"He's a bit bewildered and shocked by the decision," Rennie said.
"Obviously, he's had a great performance and he feels like he's let people down, he's gutted."
Rugby fans were also devastated at the manner in which the enthralling contest ended, with many describing the refereeing decision as a "farce" and a "disgrace".
— Dr Sanchito Banerjee (@sportify89) September 15, 2022
That rugby was a farce what a disgraceful ref performance you've got to be kidding me wallabies absolutely rode robbery would be an understatement
— Michael Daly (@mdbcfccoybig316) September 15, 2022
The referee committed daylight robbery on the Wallabies. Shocking decision!!!!
— Nkosinathi M (@Nkosina11675729) September 15, 2022
i’m a kiwi, you were robbed, we’d be crying like wee babies if that happened to us 🤷🏻♂️🤦♂️
— Rod Te Koeti Bannister (@RodNuiB) September 15, 2022
There’s no shame when a team beats you fair and square. But today the Wallabies were robbed
— Sam Trevor (@SamTrevor380) September 15, 2022
A disgrace of a test match. Will be remembered only for one thing - Raynal. This will only further destroy the sport in Australia.
— Jon (@Jon96361661) September 15, 2022
Haven't watched rugby union since they sacked Falau! After this disgrace, I'll never watch it again!!! PATHETIC DECISION!!!
— Howard Ross (@HowardR12188665) September 15, 2022
— Mark (@Hazelbrook8) September 15, 2022
The controversial finish took the gloss off what was a huge impressive return to Test rugby by Foley, following a three-year absence from the Wallabies.
The 33-year-old had a shaky start as the Wallabies trailed 12-0 early but lived up to his ice-man nickname as the pressure was turned up.
His goal-kicking was faultless, with four conversions and two penalties from as many attempts.
Bernard Foley impresses on Wallabies return
Foley's creativity with ball in hand was also first rate as he exposed holes in the All Blacks' defence, setting up two tries for fullback Andrew Kellaway.
"I thought he was sensational," Rennie said of Foley.
"He controlled the game really well ... he's just very confident, he gives a lot of confidence to people around him, good energy and voice, a real positive mindset.
"Down 31-13, it's easy to start thinking it's going to be a tough finish to the game but he kept encouraging us to play and play at the right part of the field so I thought he had a big game."
Playing in Japan since the 2019 World Cup, Foley was thrilled to be back in the gold jersey.
"I loved it. I've missed the Test arena, the anticipation, the build-up, it was unreal," he told Stan Sport.
"I was a bit disappointed with a few unforced errors early but I've worked on my mental game to stay on task and I was lucky to stay in the contest," he said.
"This side has got so much potential - a lot haven't played much Test match rugby but they thrived in the grind and they will be better for it. '
"These are great learning experiences."
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