Australia bounces back to crush Italy 50-20
TURIN, Italy (AP) — Australia shook off a rocky start to crush Italy 50-20 at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday and bounce back from a morale-sapping loss to England.
The Wallabies’ 20-13 defeat Twickenham shot down their Grand Slam bid in their European tour opener, but they got back to winning ways in Turin.
Italy dominated the early stages before a fearsome backlash from the Wallabies kicked in as they scored 33 points without reply. They finished with tries to Nick Cummins (two), captain Ben Mowen, Tevita Kuridrani, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Joe Tomane and Israel Folau. Quade Cooper converted four, and Christian Leali’ifano two.
“I think a lot of things are back on track,” Australia coach Ewen Mckenzie said. “It was a really good scoreboard for us particularly when we were 10-0 down. The guys worked through that and even in the end there we showed some character.
“We showed potency in attack and worked hard through the game to score those points. So there was consistency there and we had to work hard in defense at different times. They came at us pretty hard too.”
Luke McLean, Lorenzo Cittadini and debutant Tommaso Allan crossed for Italy’s tries.
Italy believed it had one of its best chances to claim a first victory over Australia after 15 defeats. The last encounter between the sides was a narrow loss by three points a year ago, and the Wallabies were considered vulnerable from eight defeats in 11 matches this year.
“We knew they had pace, and high-quality players,” Italy coach Jacques Brunel said. “After a really good first quarter of an hour we then made too many mistakes and were far behind at halftime.
“Our defense wasn’t at the level we expected. There were individual weaknesses but we didn’t work as a team either. It’s just a blip in our progression, what’s important is where we end up. There’s good moments and bad moments in a path of progression. Today, nothing worked but we mustn’t lose confidence. We are disappointed with what we did but these things are part of a squad’s progression.”
Italy will hope to rectify its problems before next week’s match against Fiji. It closes its home series against Argentina in Rome on Nov. 23. Next up for Australia is Ireland in Dublin.
“We’re pretty confident after a win like that and we’ve already spoken about next week,” Mowen said. “We play tough sides week in week out. We’re already prepping for Ireland and we know how much of a challenge that will be. We’ve been training really hard and today was the hard work off the field paying off.
“An error here and there cost us, but we knew there was plenty of footy to go and we were patient. We struck back straight after we went 10-down with a couple of quick tries and that really swung the momentum.”
Italy piled on the pressure from the outset. Flyhalf Alberto di Bernardo kicked an easy penalty then Italy launched a swift attack from inside its own 22. Tommaso Benevenuti raced down the right flank, threw inside to Luca Morisi, who passed for Australia-born Mclean to score the game’s opening try. Di Bernardo’s conversion made it 10-0.
Australia replied within three minutes, put Italy under heavy pressure until flyhalf Cooper passed out wide and No. 8 Mowen found a gap to go over.
Four minutes later, winger Nick Cummins was hauled down just before the tryline but offloaded for center Kuridrani to touch down.
The Wallabies had a nine-point lead when Cummins latched onto a pass from scrumhalf Will Genia and slipped McLean to score in the right corner.
Italy should have reduced the deficit before halftime but di Bernardo sent two penalty kicks wide.
At the start of the second half, Cooper’s pass to Cummins appeared to be forward but the video referee awarded a try and Cooper again converted as the Wallabies extended their lead to 16 points.
Italy had little to offer against heavy Australian pressure and found itself further behind on the hour when Cooper offloaded for Ashley-Cooper to score by the right post.
Replacement prop Cittadini went over for Italy after first McLean and then Robert Barbieri were halted close to the line, however a Leali’ifano penalty for Australia was quickly followed by Tomane sprinting into the right corner. Leali’ifano converted from the touchline and a 35-point lead.
With the outcome long beyond doubt, Australia took its foot off the pedal. Italy attacked almost continuously until the final whistle but made little headway until Allan slipped through a gap and the 20-year-old replacement flyhalf scored a try on his debut.