Scotland flanker Blair Cowan admitted that his side's dramatic 35-34 loss to Australia in their Rugby World Cup quarter-final was devastating but said there's plenty of pride in their camp despite their exit from the tournament.
Australia fly-half Bernard Foley broke Scottish hearts when he kicked the match winning penalty in the 80th minute of the thrilling play-off at Twickenham, after South African referee Craig Joubert ruled that Scotland prop Jon Welsh played the ball from an offside position.
“We’re obviously absolutely devastated to be out, but hell, we’re proud of the way we left,” said an emotional Cowan, as he choked back the tears after the match.
‘I’m not going to cry about that final penalty; I was off the field at the time and you’ve got to take control of the game for 80 minutes.
"I saw it ‘up top’ [on the big screen] but relying on one decision is never going to be enough to beat a side as good as Australia.
"Obviously we’ll review it, but it’s history and you’ve got to look at the control of other 79 minutes of the game."
When asked about his emotional state Cowan confessed he was struggling to stem the flow of obvious tears.
“I’ve got a lot of family who’ve travelled a 30 hour trip to see this and have a 30 hour trip back home tomorrow; three days in all to see 80 minutes," he added.
"I’m gutted we didn’t do it for them and for all of the fans that have given us immense support.
"To come that close, to almost make history but yet to fail is utterly devastating and I have no words for how much the gestures of friends, family and fans have been for me and for all of the guys in there. It’s pretty emotional as you can see.
“We’re a pretty humble bunch of guys, we go out there, we give our best, we don’t big it up and we try to under promise and over deliver.
"Vern [Cotter] asked us to stand up for our country, stand up for our family and for tradition, and to do our jobs and do them well. I can’t fault any of the 23 players out there. We did what he asked.
“The game see-sawed and there were things we didn’t control and things we controlled bloody well, so to come so close and fall right at the end hurts and hurts a lot.
“But in the final analysis, it’s a fresh wound and it’s a pretty sore one right now. But it’ll heal and we’ll come back stronger and better for the experience.”
By James While