Australia end long, brutal autumn on a depressingly meaningless high | Daniel Gallan

Wallabies ground out comeback win over Wales in a context-free match neither team needed but neither could afford to lose

Five weeks ago, when Blair Kinghorn hoofed a ball high into the frosty Edinburgh air, five consecutive Tests in five different countries for Dave Rennie’s Wallabies seemed like a good idea. His team had blown hot and cold during the Rugby Championship and had shown glimpses of their potential in a 2-1 series loss to England. This end of year tour would complete the Six Nations set to go along with their regular bouts with the southern hemisphere giants. Less than a year out from the World Cup, all stones would be turned.

Now, the best thing we can say about this European adventure is that it’s over. Not every member of the squad who jetted across the world more than a month ago reached the finish line. The Wallabies’ injury list is now up to 40. Mid-tour casualties include Nic White, Rob Valetini, Andrew Kellaway, Hunter Paisami, Bernard Foley, Dave Porcecki and Michael Hooper. Add to the mix Quade Cooper, Samu Kerevi, Scott Sio and Tom Banks. We could go on.

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Wales 34-39 Australia: Autumn Nations Series – as it happened

Wales were left stunned after Lachlan Lonergan completed a wild comeback win for Australia

6 mins. Some possession in the Aus half for Wales is moved through the hands in a few phases, but it’s once again a little ponderous and allows Ikitau to swarm all over North who puts the ball down. But it was a knock on by the Aussie man!

Wales win the penalty from the scrum and will have a lineout deep in Australian territory.

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Pivac and Rennie feel the heat as Wales and Australia try to put out fires

Both sides have struggled during the autumn internationals and will need to bolster their walking wounded

The international window has closed, and most people have moved on. How Wales and Australia must feel they could join them. But, no, they must rouse themselves once more – in Australia’s case for a fifth weekend in a row – to satisfy the baying hordes of fans and corporate suits.

Both might feel the poor relations of their respective circles, all the more so in their battered and weakened states – and a cursory glance at their walking wounded and positions on the rankings ladder will supply ample reason for them to feel that way. Wales are coming off the fresh indignity of a home defeat to Georgia, while Australia were hardly any more enamoured of their first defeat to Italy in Florence the weekend before that.

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Michael Hooper joins Wallabies’ long injury list ahead of Wales Test

  • Six other players already back in Australia after leaving tour
  • Fraser McReight likely to start at No 7; Langi Gleeson to debut

The Wallabies’ injury crisis has worsened with former skipper Michael Hooper joining the exodus from their spring tour ahead of the final Test against Wales. Coach Dave Rennie is scrambling to pull a line-up together for Sunday’s (AEDT) clash, with Hooper the seventh player sidelined following Australia’s 13-10 loss to Ireland after the veteran flanker suffered a concussion.

Six players including prop Taniela Tupou, who has a suspected ruptured achilles tendon, have already flown home to Australia, with Hooper also set to depart Cardiff for Sydney.

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World Rugby investigates Australia not replacing White after brain injury

  • Australia’s White continued on despite clear concussion signs
  • Governing body is ‘looking at circumstances’ of the controversy

World Rugby says it is “looking at the circumstances” of the controversial events in Dublin on Saturday when Australia’s Nic White was allowed to return to the field despite clear signs he had sustained a brain injury in the second half of his side’s 13-10 defeat against Ireland.

White has since been stood down for 12 days and will miss the final game of the Wallabies’ tour against Wales. But despite being visibly unsteady on his feet after a tackle on Mack Hansen and an accidental collision with Josh van der Flier’s boot, the scrum-half was not permanently removed from the fray as should have been the case.

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Ireland chasing southern-hemisphere hat-trick against Australia

  • New Zealand and South Africa already beaten this year
  • Scotland face Argentina, Wales take on Georgia

A clean sweep of the southern-hemisphere giants in the same calendar year is Ireland’s for the taking this weekend if they can beat Australia in Dublin. And it is testament to the changing face of international rugby that it would not even be for the first time. They managed it in 2016.

This time, though, it feels solid. In 2016, they beat the All Blacks for the first time in their history, let alone all three of them in one year, but now the Irish lord it over the rest at the top of World Rugby’s rankings. Beat the Wallabies in Saturday’s evening fixture, and that is where they will finish the year. More poignantly perhaps, it is where they will start a World Cup year.

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