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Australia make seven changes for Autumn Nations Series game against Wales

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Head coach Dave Rennie has made seven changes to Australia’s starting line-up for their Autumn Nations Series game against Wales at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

A week after the Wallabies lost 13-10 in Ireland – their third loss in as many games – Ben Donaldson will get his first start as flyhalf.

Donaldson, favored over Noah Lolesio, joins Waratah teammate Jake Gordon, who starts at scrum half, with Reece Hodge to operate at inside center for an injury-ravaged side.

Rennie has just 25 fully fit players at his disposal on Saturday after captain Michael Hooper became the latest player to fall by the wayside with a concussion.

Prop Taniela Tupou is also set to be sidelined for seven months after rupturing her Achilles.

Australia responded fiercely to their embarrassing loss to Italy a fortnight ago – and nearly upset the majority of the sold-out crowd at the Aviva Stadium – but this tour was sobering.

After a one-point loss to France in Paris, the Wallabies are trying to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat.

“If you look at wins and losses, it’s going to be a bad season,” Rennie said.

“We had a lot of close games and games we should have won. We need to look at that and turn the pressure into points at key times.

“I really think we are a better team. We have plenty of firepower to come back to and I’m confident we can put together a strong squad and build on what we’ve done.

“We can trust the last few weeks, especially the performances in Dublin and Paris against very strong teams, but we have to be better.

“If we win a few key moments, we win a few tests at strong venues, so we’ll get confidence from that, but we have to be better.”

Rennie also gave Langi Gleeson his first start – replacing the injured Rob Valetini – with Fraser McReight replacing Hooper at the open flank.

Wales are aiming for a fourth straight win against the Wallabies, but head coach Wayne Pivac has overseen just three wins from 11 starts this year.

Pivac also comes into Saturday’s matchup under the microscope after Georgia’s shock 13-12 win last weekend.

“We are certainly waiting for an answer because they are going to suffer, as we did a few weeks ago,” Rennie added.

“I have no doubt that they are under pressure because it comes down to results. But I’m sure they will be very motivated for a great performance this weekend.

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By Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org