Australia claimed their second victory on their November tour with a scrappy 32-14 win over an ill-disciplined Italian outfit on Saturday.
Australia claimed their second win on their November tour with a 32-14 win over an ill-disciplined Italian outfit.
In a match that lacked any really quality, it was the boot of Berrick Barnes that ensured that Robbie Deans' men picked up the second scalp on their end-of-year tour. However, it was far from a performance that will quell the growing discontent amongst the Australian press and public.
While the Australian scrum showed some signs of stability against Munster, on Saturday the front-row again suffered the indignity of conceding penalties at almost every scrum. The line-outs didn't fare much better with Stephen Moore often failing to find his jumpers.
Barnes set the tone for the match when he opened the scoring in the third minute with his first of six penalties.
Drew Mitchell claimed the visitors' first five-pointer of the encounter in the ninth minute when he crashed over from five minutes out after Australia went close in the right hand corner, there was some suspicion that the pass to Mitchell was forward but referee Berdos was happy.
What followed was a mÃªlÃ©e of forward grind from both sides that failed to yield any substantial gain. It was the Italians propensity to concede penalties at will within their own half that ensured the Wallabies continued to stretch their lead, one that stood at 13-9 at the break.
Neither side saw fit to involve their wide men with any regularity, with Adam Ashley-Cooper barely touching the ball during his 50th game for the Australians. Indeed, Italian full-back Luke McLean seemed so surprised to be passed the ball as the Italians broke down the right hand touchline that he fumbled the ball with the try-line in his sights.
Barnes continued to show great accuracy with his place-kicking but it was the Azzurri who were next to cross the whitewash. From a scrum five metres from the line, skipper Sergio Parisse picked up from the back of the scrum and drove forward, the ball dropped backwards in the tackle and replacement Robert Barbieri dived over the line.
With just under ten minutes to go and the deficit reduced to just eleven, the home side briefly held hopes that an unlikely victory could be recorded, but Rocky Elsom crashed over in the last movement of the game after the ball spewed out of an Italian scrum to ensure there was no late charge.
Man of the match: The Italians certainly played with great courage and for all the interest surrounding his debut, Edoardo Gori enjoyed a productive start. But it was the boot of Berrick Barnes that was the difference between the two teams.
Moment of the match: Such was the dire nature of play that a rather humorous incident in which Drew Mitchell's tattooed backside got extended airtime provided one of the few reasons to smile during the 80 minutes.
Villain of the match: The Australian scrum were at their appalling best in Florence. James Slipper was the primary culprit, conceding three penalties at scrum time before he was substituted in the second-half. But Slipper was not alone, with Benn Robinson and Ben Alexander also falling foul of the referee's whistle.
Pens: Bergamasco 2, Orquera
Tries: Mitchell, Elsom
Cons: Barnes 2
Pens: Barnes 6
Italy: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Gonzalo Canale, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Mirco Bergamasco, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Paul Derbyshire, 5 Quintin Geldenhuys, 4 Carlo Antonio Del Fava, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Fabio Ongaro, 1 Andrea Lo Cicero.
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Lorenzo Cittadini, 18 Santiago Dellape, 19 Robert Barbieri, 20 Pablo Canavosio, 21 Riccardo Bocchino, 22 Andrea Masi.
Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rocky Elsom (c), 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Mark Chisholm, 19 Matt Hodgson, 20 Will Genia, 21 Matt Giteau, 22 Pat McCabe.
Referee: Christophe Berdos (France)