The Wallabies rued two controversial refereeing decisions as their rugby grand slam tilt crashed at the first hurdle in a painful 20-13 loss to England.
Frustrated coach Ewen McKenzie refrained from criticising the match officials but cut a bitter figure at Twickenham on Saturday after both massive calls went against the tourists and resulted in back-to-back English tries.
The Australians also led to their own demise as they failed to handle the pressure in front of a packed crowd of 80,000 to slump to their eighth loss from 11 Tests this year.
They must live with giving away a huge opportunity when up and running at 13-6 early in the second half.
The match turned when vice-captain Quade Cooper missed an angled penalty attempt for a 10-point lead and then England’s man-of-the-match Mike Brown plucked a Matt Toomua touch-finder out of the sky.
Fullback Brown was standing on the sideline at the time but it was missed by the touch judge and his counter-attack ultimately sparked a Chris Robshaw try at the other end from a charged-down Will Genia box-kick.
“Obviously it (Brown’s feet in touch) flashed up on the big screen so that was a 90m turnaround and there’s seven points at the end of it and theoretically we should have been having a lineout 5m out,” McKenzie said.
“You can’t say those things don’t have an impact on the game but I guess that’s part of the vagaries of rugby.
“We’ll look at the opportunities we had and the mistakes we made.”
England were also helped by a 50-50 TMO decision when Owen Farrell strolled over eight minutes later as he ghosted between Stephen Moore and Ben Mowen.
Hooker Moore had his path blocked by an off-side Dylan Hartley but television match official Marshall Kilgore decided “there wasn’t enough of an obstruction” to deny the try.
The Wallabies, who were guilty of kicking too much, struggled to regain their composure as the English pack upset their ball at the breakdown to clinch the Cook Cup.
They must dust themselves off against Italy in Turin next Saturday while ensuing games against Ireland, Scotland and Wales no longer hold the same level of interest with grand slam hopes shot.
“It’s hugely disappointing,” captain Ben Mowen said. “This is a game we well focussed on.
“At halftime and the period just after there was a real opportunity to skip ahead and put the pressure on England and we missed those opportunities.”
The English actually started better and counted themselves unfortunate not have a bigger lead than 6-3 after 30 minutes as their scrum dominated but Farrell missed three straight kickable penalties.
With one of their few attacking forays before the break, the Wallabies hit back when Cooper found Israel Folau, impressive again, with a beautiful cut-out pass from a solid scrum.
Folau shrugged off Chris Ashton and then from the ensuing plays centre Toomua bowled over Billy Twelvetrees from close range to cross.
It was the sort of finishing precision which Australia had sorely lacked this year, but could not repeat again in the game.
Genia had a Test to forget with his kicking and was replaced with 15 minutes to go by Nic White.
The Wallabies missed abrasive flanker Scott Fardy at the breakdown for the last half-hour after he was carted off the ground with a head knock but he was later cleared of serious damage.