Australia have piled on 26 unanswered points in a devastating second half to power past a stubborn Italy in difficult conditions at North Harbour Stadium. Italy had kept the pool C favourites at bay for most of the first half, only allowing the penalty goals to Cooper and going to the break locked at six all. Their defense could not hold the Wallabies in the second half when the trademark running game of the Australians finally clicked.
Tries from Ben Alexander, Adam Ashley-Cooper, James O’Connor and Digby Ioane gave Australia the bonus point that did not look to be coming after a disjointed first stanza. The game started in the rain, and as the sun started to shine, so did the Robbie Deans coached side.
The Italian set piece struggled throughout the match, giving away ball in prime attacking positions. The Australian scrum, which most see as a weak link, was solid against one of the strongest front rows in the world.
The running rugby that has taken Australia to the Tri-Nations title this year was too much for a tiring Italian outfit. Cooper lead the team around the paddock well and the exciting talents of Beale, O’Connor and Ioane cut through with ease.
Next up for the Australia is the big one against Ireland in what should be the pool C decider. The Italians will travel down to Nelson to face Russia and try to get their tournament back on track.
Man of the match: Ben Alexander scored the first Australian try after some great build-up play, and that try was just reward for a top performance in the scrum and work around the park.
Tries: Alexander, Ashley-Cooper, O’Connor, Ioane
Con: O’Connor (3)
Pen: Cooper (2)
Pen: Bergamasco (2)
By Alex Barlow-Smith