It was a disappointing end to the Autumn Nations Series for Wales and England as both tasted defeat in Round 4.
Wales were the victims of a comeback for the ages as Australia overturned a 34-13 deficit to win 39-34, while England were beaten into submission by world Champions South Africa, losing 27-13 at Twickenham.
But events from the weekend paled into insignificance after Doddie Weir’s tragic passing at the age of 52, six years after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
Tributes poured in from all corners of the globe for Weir, who became as renowned for his dedication to tackling MND, as for his outstanding rugby career which saw him win 61 caps for Scotland and tour with the British and Irish Lions in 1997.
Following Weir’s diagnosis in 2016, his charity My Name’5 Doddie Foundation has raised more than £5 million and the second row was awarded an OBE in 2019 for services to rugby, to MND research and to the Borders community.
Weir will be remembered as one of rugby’s all-time greats, a gentle giant who touched the hearts of many and whose legacy will never be forgotten.
Wales show potential before Wallabies late show
It was ultimately a gut-wrenching end to the autumn for Wales, as Australia scored two minutes from time to snatch victory from their grasp at Principality Stadium.
But the first hour went pretty much to plan for Wayne Pivac, who was without a number of key individuals, including the English-based players who had returned to their clubs as Saturday’s fixture fell outside the Test window.
Jac Morgan has arguably been Wales’ standout player from the past few weeks and scored again against the Wallabies, looking unstoppable each time he got on the ball as he made more than 100 metres for his side.
Quiz: Can you name Wales’s Guinness Six Nations winning sides?
He was just as titanic in defence, putting in 11 tackles and missing none – a back row which comprises Morgan, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau can be as good as any on their day.
There were bright moments for the young bucks in the back line too, with Rio Dyer on the scoresheet for the second time this month and Joe Hawkins delivering an assured performance on his first Test start.
Morgan’s first try came after a brilliant pair of offloads from Tomos Williams and the returning Alun Wyn Jones, whose powers show no sign of waning, and the second score was just as easy on the eye, with the ball shuffled down the line seamlessly before No.8 Faletau’s corner finish.
The building blocks are certainly there, but Wales just need to shake this growing tendency of losing matches at the death.
England worn down by wily Springboks
England threatened to spring another late comeback but were stopped in their tracks by a resolute South Africa side.
They were handed a lifeline when replacement prop Thomas Du Toit was sent off on the hour.
Then, when Henry Slade scored to leave England 14 points back with eight minutes to play for the second straight week, Twickenham was ready to roar the home side on to another epic finale.
But the closing minutes of the final Test of 2022 passed without incident, leaving England to lick their wounds at the end of another bruising encounter.
It was a frustrating way for Manu Tuilagi to cap his 50th England appearance, with the centre well marshalled by the Springbok midfield pairing of Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel.
He finished the game alongside Slade and the Exeter man will be pleased with how he took his try. He seems to have won Eddie Jones over, having been left out of the squad that toured Australia in the summer, as well as the initial training squad for the autumn.
Club colleague Jack Nowell also impressed from the bench and responded well to being left out, having started England’s previous two fixtures.
Jones’ charges have endured a tough month but there is not much time for introspection – they will be back at Twickenham in just 68 days’ time for their first Guinness Six Nations match against rejuvenated Scotland.