Two losses confirm the Wallabies now trail Scotland

1. Wallabies' loss has muddied their year

There was a big step forward in Brisbane against the All Blacks, but how many little steps have there been on this tour of Europe? Discipline was again very poor and the final Scotland try, when Scotland skipper John Barclay barged over three Wallabies bodies, bordered on soft.

???Sekope Kepu's deserved red card for a shoulder charge to Hamish Watson's head was clearly an important moment but the way the Wallabies folded after his dismissal was dispiriting. We can only conclude that when you take four or five of the big names out of the 23 the Wallabies lack for depth. They have not coped well with Israel Folau's absence or the injuries in the second row.

It has been a troubling fortnight for the Wallabies. While the recent green shoots of recovery remain, they are now indisputably inferior to Scotland, who may only be Europe's third best side and have beaten them twice this year without Stuart Hogg.

2. Sean McMahon was the bright spot

He may still be a little undersized as far as Test No. 8s go but yet again McMahon showed that incredible capacity of his to get over the gainline. It doesn't seem to matter who McMahon is playing, he bowls through tackles with regularity. His pre-game comments about his reasons for heading to Japan tapped into a hard truth - the game is being played by more dynamic and explosive athletes yet the Test season is getting no shorter.

While disappointment is clearly the overriding emotion as he departs who can fairly begrudge him? Players such as McMahon will spend the rest of their days managing the wounds they sustained during their years at the top. Of course, the Wallabies want him back but he should leave with no ill will. He has been a champion this year.

3. Stephen Moore is right to go

Players head off into their post-rugby lives with a degree of uncertainty and rightly so. There are no 60,000 crowds to urge you on as you go about your office work for the rest of your days. Yet the warrior hooker has made the right call to exit now: his waning physical powers are obvious in the carry and the tackle, and the Scots took advantage of the latter.

Still, it has been a long and distinguished career in which he has had to ride the highs and lows of Australian rugby. His peak years were 2010 to 2013 where he brought his full range of attributes to the fore, and even managed to hint at a late-career transformation into a ball-playing No. 2 until time caught up with him.

4. Is Finn Russell the world's best No.10?

It's a title the Scotland playmaker can realistically hope to attain even if he doesn't have it now. Russell and his excellent halfback partner Ali Price were again instrumental in Wallabies' loss. When Kepu was sent off they upped the tempo, with Price showing off his deceptive strength to dot down and then Russell taking a quick tap to set up Huw Jones.

Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton were impressive again as Ireland beat Argentina but Russell has a bit on magic about him that makes him a joy to watch. Bernard Foley showed two brilliant touches to set up Tevita Kuridrani's tries but Russell has played the All Blacks and Wallabies in successive weeks and has been the best No.10 on the park.

5. All Blacks show the gap is still there

Injuries have cut deep for New Zealand this year and their attacking game has only worked in fits and starts, but they dug out a good win in Cardiff and showed moments of class that few can match.

Rieko Ioane terrorised the Welsh and Sam Cane put his hand up to be regarded as the world's pre-eminent No.7 with a defensive masterclass. That ability to put teams away even though they have half their team missing puts them just ahead of the pack as the year closes, with an almighty scramble behind them among the pursuers.

Team of the Week

1. Rob Evans (Wales)
2. Codie Taylor (New Zealand)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
4. Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)
5. Jonny Gray (Scotland)
6. John Barclay (Scotland)
7. Sam Cane (New Zealand)
8. Taulupe Faletau (Wales)
9. Ali Price (Scotland)
10. Finn Russell (Scotland)
11. Rieko Ioane (New Zealand)
12. Owen Williams (Wales)
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (New Zealand)
14. Elliot Daly (England)
15. Rob Kearney (Ireland)

This story Two losses confirm the Wallabies now trail Scotland first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.