Wallabies complete Italian job to close out June Series

Saturday June 24, 2017

The Wallabies have defeated Italy 40-27 on a sun-soaked Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday afternoon.

The Wallabies powered in six tries, with Israel Folau and Sefa Naivalu both posting a double as they took down a spirited Azzuri outfit who trailed by just a point as the clock ticked down inside the final five minutes of play.

A 77th minute solo try to Bernard Foley gave the men in gold some breathing space, before a 50-metre dash down the left touchline from replacement back Reece Hodge blew the final margin out to 13 points.

The Australian effort was once again punctuated by errors at key moments, as they failed to shake the gritty Italians until right at the death.

Wallabies Captain, Stephen Moore said: “To Italy’s credit they fought their way back into the game. It probably shows where we are at, down on a little bit of confidence in some parts of our game.

“I thought our defence and physicality was really good. There is some good stuff to work on there, but we have a big couple of months before we play New Zealand.

“We want to be able to back ourselves but you don’t want to make those errors, particularly in our own half. We’ll go away and look at that and work on it for the next couple of months.”

The Azzurri jumped out to a 3-0 lead and almost stretched their advantage further but for a TMO decision denying the visitors the opening try.

Starved of the ball early, the Wallabies eventually broke into the game when Naivalu broke free on the left wing and used his sheer speed to reach the tryline in the 14th minute.

Shortly after, the home side were attacking the line again and slick hands from Dane Haylett-Petty sent Folau spinning over in the corner to extend Australia’s lead to 14-3.

Italy pegged the gap back to 14-6 with another penalty to Tommaso but it was Australia who struck another blow with Folau crossing for his second try at the 30-minute mark to take the score to 21-6.

With the Wallabies seemingly in command heading to half time, momentum shifted on a brilliant solo try to Michele Campagnaro. The Exeter Chiefs centre sliced through the midfield, sprinting 50 metres and just escaping the Wallabies covering defence to cut the margin to eight.

Australia shot out of the blocks in the second half and a flashy through-the-legs pass from Foley and slick Karmichael Hunt hands sent Naivalu over for his second five-pointer just three minutes after the break.

The Italians then capitalised on some strong work from their scrum and finally seized another try-scoring opportunity when Haylett-Petty fumbled a high ball under defensive pressure into the hands of fullback Edoardo Padovani who dived over.

Four minutes later they were back in again through another opportunistic raid when replacement back Tommaso Benvenuti stole a pass from Rory Arnold deep in the Wallabies half and crashed over despite the Australian cover defence to bridge the gap to one after the conversion.

Losing replacement prop Toby Smith to a yellow card in the 73rd minute didn’t help Australia’s cause as the match hung in the balance until the final stages.

Foley’s determined solo effort to reach over next to the right upright, and Hodge’s runaway try in the final minute meant the Wallabies could finally stamp their authority on the contest and prevailed by a final score of 40-27.

Australia 40 (Sefanaia Naivalu 2, Israel Folau 2, Bernard Foley, Reece Hodge tries; Bernard Foley 5 cons) defeated Italy 27 (Michele Campagnaro, Edoardo Padovani, Tommaso Benvenuti tries; Tommaso Allan 3 cons; 2 pens) at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.

News Source: ARU Media