Scotland coach Scott Johnson says that Jim Hamilton should never have been yellow-carded and that the official's mistake cost Scotland the match, reports JON CARDINELLI in Nelspruit.
Scotland lost 30-17 to South Africa on Saturday, but could well have recorded a famous upset victory. They led 17-6 at one stage, and the momentum swung in the Springboks' favour only when Hamilton was yellow-carded for foul play in the 51st minute.
Referee Romain Poite did not see the incident and went to the TMO, Gerrie Coetzee, for assistance. The video evidence showed Hamilton shoving Bok lock Eben Etzebeth, and while the transgression did not look serious, the TMO advised Poite to show Hamilton a yellow card.
The Boks proceeded to score seven points in Hamilton's absence, and took the lead for the first time in the second half. The Boks finished the game with a flourish, and the final scoreline flattered the hosts.
At the post-match press conference, Johnson made it clear that he felt the officials had cost Scotland the game.
'Why did we lose? It's pretty simple, you can't win a Test with 14 men. This isn't tiddlywinks,' Johnson said.
There are many who share Johnson's view, that Hamilton did not deserve to be sin-binned for such a minor transgression. When asked if he had ever seen a yellow card brandished for a two-handed shove, Johnson quipped: 'Only in my household.'
He added: 'It was ridiculous. It was handbag stuff. It ruined a good game. It allowed the Boks back into the game.
'All you ask for as a coach or player is consistency. That was inconsistent if you think that that type of thing [shoving] happens every week. Hell, it probably happened four or five times in the Test tonight.
'I've just been asked if I'd like to cite anybody,' he added. 'I should have maybe said I'd like to cite the fourth official.
'Could we have won the game? Yes. I'd even go so far to say we should have won it. I'm bitterly disappointed.'
Scotland went into this game as underdogs, not just because of their lowly world ranking, but also due to the absence of so many frontline players. Three players are on British & Irish Lions duty, while three more have been ruled out this past week because of injury, including captain Kelly Brown.
The Scots were dealt a further setback during the game when Ruardih Jackson was helped from the field. Later in the game, replacement pivot Peter Horne went off on the stretcher.
Johnson believes that his charges did wonderfully well considering the challenges they faced before and during the Test.
'We lost two flyhalves during the game. At one stage I was thinking about putting my boots on and running down, and I haven't played in 30 years.
'They gave absolutely everything, so to say I'm proud is an understatement. We had a horrific week with injuries, and it looks like we will have to call for more reinforcements ahead of next week's game [against Italy in Pretoria]. Guys like Euan Murray and Johnnie Beattie had no right being on the field, but they gave everything. I'm really proud.'
Johnson's opposite number Heyneke Meyer bemoaned the Boks' performance at the collisions and breakdowns. Johnson felt the Scots' showing in this area was key to a near upset.
'It's a physical game, and if you get that contact right, you're going to have the space to play some footie,' Johnson said. 'We took it to them. Were they up for it? I can't answer that.'
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