It wasn’t the most impressive of wins, but the Wallabies scraped across the line in Italy Saturday night.
A lacklustre second half, in which they failed to score, almost cost Australia the game, however Italy’s huge comeback fell just short as the Wallabies escaped with a 22-19 win.
Until last night, Italy were an historically easy opponent for Australia, but had five-eighth Luciani Orquera converted a penalty goal to draw the match in the final minute, the visitors may have dropped their first Test against Italy in 14 tries.
A strong first half saw the Wallabies jump ahead 22-3 despite giving up the opening score to Luciano, who converted a penalty goal in the fourth minute. After that it was all Wallabies: Berrick Barnes put the Aussies up with penalty goals in the sixth and 15th minutes before Nick Cummins added a try two minutes later.
Barnes handed the penalty kicking duties over to Kurtley Beale after feeling some tightness in his groin and the replacement extended the Australian lead to 19 at the half.
But Italy’s comeback started as soon as the second half got underway. Robert Barbieri returned after a first half sin bin sacking to score a try in the opening minute before Michele Rizzo made Australia pay for an unforgivable turnover with another try.
Coach Robbie Deans left Wallaby fans with a few unconvincing quotes.
"It was a very good start by the lads," said Deans. 'We didn't get the return we were hoping for, but turned penalties into points, which was important. In the second half you could see why. They played well and brought a lot of pressure to bear.
"You can't fault the physical effort. We weren't accurate. Some of our delivery wasn't great and that opened the door to an extent. The physical effort was huge.
"Credit to Italy. It was evident our group is at end of a long, demanding year. We've got one to go. If we hadn't shown that physical persistence, they wouldn't have got out of this one."
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Follow Robert White on Twitter @RobertWhitebrrr.