It was the refereeing controversy which had Wallabies players bewildered and fans livid but coach Michael Cheika could only praise his team for getting on with the job.
Many believed South African referee Marius Van Der Westhuizen blighted what was a quality Test match by overturning a scintillating Israel Folau try midway through the second half in Australia’s 18-9 win over Ireland.
Down 9-8 at the time, the Brisbane crowd was in raptures when the stand-out fullback crossed in the corner after Samu Kerevi forced a midfield turnover with a huge tackle and centre partner Kurtley Beale scythed through on counter-attack.
But their celebrations were short-lived as Van Der Westhuizen instead ruled a penalty to Ireland after Kiwi TMO Ben Skeen asked him to review a backplay incident while Bernard Foley was lining up the conversion.
Aggressive Wallabies lock Adam Coleman tackled decoy James Ryan, Ireland’s best on the night, in a crunching ball-and-all hit a couple of phases before.
Fans from both nations were stunned by the whistle-blower’s decision to deny the five-pointer as former Wallabies captain and commentator Phil Kearns exclaimed “the referee has lost the plot”.
While Coleman said there was a “fine line” in the decision, Cheika wouldn’t buy into the controversy after the intense war of attrition.
Instead he focused on the “character” of his players, who too often in the past have failed to cope with debatable calls, and how they kept their composure and continued their momentum.
“It is what it is,” Chieka said of the decision. “What I really liked was the way we reacted to that because we thought it was a try.
“I thought (captain) Michael Hooper managed that situation really well and we keep saying we have to build a ‘no excuses mentality’
“We just have to get on with it and get on to the next moment.
“We’ve got to get more consistent with that.”
Coleman owned his mild indiscretion, suckered in by a flat face ball.
“I probably overstepped the mark there a little bit,” he said.
“I was more proud of the boys how they responded. We really stuck to our processes and got an outcome.”
From there, the Australian pack took hold of the match, largely thanks to a dominant scrum that led to a Foley penalty goal for an 11-9 lead.
Hooper then made a bold call to take a quick tap rather than three points from their next penalty near the line.
It paid off with David Pocock’s match-sealing try about 10 rugged phases later.
“It was ballsy,” Hooper admitted. “We wanted to back ourselves and we thought it would change the picture.”