BRISBANE : Australia and Ireland showed they were both still very much works in progress during the Wallabies` scrappy 22-15 win in their one-off rugby union Test in Brisbane.
But while Ireland can now take a well-earned break until the November internationals, the Wallabies have a far more pressing deadline with their first Tri-Nations game just four weeks away.
"The Tri-Nations is the most difficult tournament in world rugby so we have a lot of work to do," Australian captain Rocky Elsom conceded after the match.
"We just weren`t sharp enough and not on the same page."
Australia have been ravaged by a horrific injury toll over the past month and took to the field on Saturday missing their entire first-choice front row, along with veteran lock Nathan Sharpe and powerful number eight Wycliff Palu.
The backline also badly missed winger Digby Ioane and, particularly, scrumhalf Will Genia, whose replacement Luke Burgess still looks out of his depth at the top level.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans took some consolation with the performances of inexperienced front-rowers Salesi Ma`afu, Saia Faingaa and Ben Daley, who held their own after being destroyed by the English over the previous two weeks.
"Obviously it was an improvement and these blokes continue to grow," Deans said.
Nonetheless, Deans will welcome back first-choice prop Benn Robinson and hooker Stephen Moore with open arms for the Wallabies` opening Tri-Nations clash with South Africa in Brisbane on July 24.
Ireland captain Brian O`Driscoll said the tour, in which they lost all three matches against New Zealand, New Zealand Maori and Australia, had proved worthwhile as it had introduced a number of players to international rugby.
As badly hit by injuries as the Wallabies were, the Irish suffered even worse, with 13 top-line players missing.
"We had a number of players earning their first caps and it was all good experience -- they will take a lot out of it," O`Driscoll said.
"We haven`t managed any victories on this tour and of course that is what you are judged on.
"We wanted to put a bit of pride back into our defensive game as we let ourselves down against New Zealand.
"Although we had a couple of lapses against Australia, we were fairly solid.
"The lads will now enjoy four or five weeks of holidays and try to freshen up for next year."
BDST: 1102 HRS, June 27, 2010