Published Sunday, 11 November 2012
District3 exit the X Factor (© Rex Features)
Louis Walsh's two groups had to sing for their place in the competition after the result of the public vote was revealed.
It was the first time a judge had two acts in the bottom two this year.
District3 sang Bruno Mars' Just The Way You Are in a last ditch attempt to stay in the competition, while Union J belted out a rendition of Adele's Set Fire To The Rain.
The boybands applauded their mentor after Louis refused to choose which one of his acts he wanted to send home.
"I'm not voting," Louis said. "I'm not sending any of these acts home. No way. I leave it to the other three judges; I cannot judge between my two acts. I love both of them."
Gary Barlow and Nicole Scherzinger both opted to save Union J, meaning three-piece band District3 were eliminated.
"The shame is tonight that was one of your worst vocal performances to date," Gary told District3.
"I'm so disappointed."
The Take That frontman then told Union J: "Although there was less harmony in your performance, I felt like you wanted it that bit more."
Nicole told the acts: "The group that I think is a more mature group and is a little bit more ready for this right now is Union J."
Tulisa Contostavlos said she would have voted to save District3, had her vote counted because she said she had a "deep connection" with the band.
The boys expressed disappointment and sadness as their X Factor journey ended, saying: "You know, it's the most gutting feeling in the world."
Joining the band onstage, Louis suggested it may have been the case the two boybands split the vote, and hoped District3 will get a record deal.
"There's nothing wrong at all. They just didn't get enough votes," he said.
"They are a dream to work with," he added.
There were gasps from the audience as controversial Essex act Rylan Clark safely made it through to next week show after singing a Spice Girl medley on Saturday night.
Last year's winners Little Mix - the first group to win the X Factor- performed earlier in the show, followed by a guest appearance from Ed Sheeran.