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South Africa 30-17 Scotland, Nelspruit
Johnson slams 'embarrassing' officials
June 16, 2013
South Africa's Eben Etzebeth and Scotland's Jim Hamilton front up, South Africa v Scotland, Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit, June 15, 2013
South Africa's Eben Etzebeth and Scotland's Jim Hamilton front up in Nelspruit © Getty Images
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Scotland boss Scott Johnson was furious with the handling of his side's defeat to South Africa on Saturday - labelling the officials 'embarrassing'.

Johnson was particular incensed with the pivotal decision by referee Romain Poite to sin-bin Scotland lock Jim Hamilton in the second half of a brutal contest following an altercation with South Africa second row Eben Etzebeth.

The Springboks capitalised on their numerical advantage and eventually claimed a 30-17 victory to book a quadrangular tournament title-decider against Samoa and leave Johnson and his much-improved side frustrated.

Asked if there should be any citings after the game, Johnson told PA Sport: "Yes, the fourth official," he said.

Although the pushing incident that led to Hamilton being sent from the field happened in front of referee Roman Poite and his assistant Neil Hennessy, it was television match official Gerrie Coetzee who was asked for a ruling.

Johnson continued: "I am bitterly disappointed. I believe we could have won and would go as far as to say that I think we should have. There was a 10-minute period where we were down to 14 men and we're not playing tiddlywinks. I've never seen someone sin-binned for that before.

"It was ridiculous. I was watching a game of rugby where you saw that kind of thing right the way through. That was nothing but embarrassing. Ten minutes for that? That was handbag stuff and it ruined a great, competitive game of footy. It certainly allowed the Boks back into the game and all I'm asking for is consistency. That was completely inconsistent.

"Did the punishment fit the crime? That would be my argument. You saw that happening several times in the game. And you can ask me a thousand times and I won't change my mind. That punishment didn't fit the crime."

Johnson was also outspoken in his criticism of Poite's handling of the game, adding: "I don't usually have a crack at officials - my record will tell you that. But this is a crack. We want consistency and tonight was inconsistent.

"We did wonderfully well. When you look at the injuries we had, and the injuries on the pitch as well with two 10s (fly- halves) down, I was nearly getting my boots on and I haven't played for 30 years.

"We were brave and resilient and I was in that box and have not been so animated in my life. I was animated because of the effort. I asked the boys for a special effort and they gave me everything. We were up a against a quality rugby team and we knew that."

Scotland lost both starting fly-half Ruaridh Jackson and his replacement Peter Horne to injury as well as flanker Ryan Wilson. The Scots have already lost three players from a squad stripped of their British & Irish Lions and they will need to re-group once again ahead of their final clash with Italy next weekend.

Hooker Scott Lawson added: "Pride at the performance, you can't take that away, but for me the overriding emotion is frustration at the result. It was a Test match against the South Africans that we could have won, so it had to be frustration.

Matt Scott, who scored the opening try, said: "At the start of the game it felt a good vibe. You get a feeling at the start and it felt that we were up for it, we were wanting to make tackles and dominate the collisions, Up until the last minute we still could have won the game.

"Everyone is gutted, myself included. We were distraught at the final whistle - to have conceded that final try as well. All the effort you have put in is in vain. We restored a bit of pride after last week and made the South Africans respect us during the game."

Scotland's Jim Hamilton is shown a yellow card by referee Romain Poite © Getty Images
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