Berrick Barnes's goalkicking was vital in the Wallabies' last win in Italy. Image courtesy of news.com.au/Getty Images
Australia has won all fourteen matches against Italy since the teams first met back in 1983, but the Azzurri will be licking their lips at the prospect of scoring a maiden Test win over the Wallabies, who come in to the game still vastly understrength, and now missing lock Rob Simmons who has copped an eight-game suspension for a lifting tackle against France two weeks back.
The Wallabies not only broke their try-scoring drought against England last week, they also regained some credibility in world rugby with a defiant 20-14 win at Twickenham. The home side had countless opportunities to break Australia’s back in the second half, but their efforts came to nought, and three penalty goals to Berrick Barnes sealed the deal.
Ben Alexander’s return at tight-head helped lift Australia’s scrum after it was clinically dismantled by the French the week before, and he’ll need to be on the top of his game against an Italian side known for its ferocious forward power. The Azzurri beat Scotland and narrowly went down to England at home during the Six Nations earlier this year, and they are a very different team when playing in Rome, Brescia, Verona, or in this case of this weekend, Florence.
The Wallabies thumped Italy 32-6 at last year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, but they’ve had battles on the past three Spring Tours. Australia led by just four at halftime in Firenze in 2010 before running away in the second half to win 32-14 , while in 2008 they scored a 10-point win, while the contest in 2006 was an even tighter affair with the visitors sneaking home with a 25-18 win.
Click here to bet on International Rugby Matches