Rugby: Wallabies hold off Italy

Leonardo Ghiraldini of Italy (C) runs with the ball during the international rugby test match between Italy and Australia. Photo / Getty Images.
Leonardo Ghiraldini of Italy (C) runs with the ball during the international rugby test match between Italy and Australia. Photo / Getty Images.

The Wallabies were kept scoreless in the second half and survived a series of late scares to land an unconvincing 22-19 victory over Italy at Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence.

Italian five-eighth Luciano Orquera missed a penalty attempt from 40 metres out with just one minute remaining to tie up the game to ensure Australia held on to win their second consecutive match of the European tour on Saturday (Sunday NZT).

Australia's set piece problems resurfaced, particularly in the scrum, with the Italians enjoying possession and territory dominance after winger Nick Cummins' try in the 19th minute helped the Wallabies to a 22-6 lead at halftime.

The Italians came out swinging in the second half with a try in the opening minute after the break to No.7 Alessandro Barbieri, who crossed after Wallabies lock Sitaleki Timani spilled in Australia's half.

Replacement prop Michele Rizzo kicked the loose ball and Barbieri, who spent 10 minutes in the sin-bin in the first half for slapping the ball down at a ruck, dived on the ball and Orquera converted to make it 22-13.

Orquera made Australia pay for their many ruck infringements by slotting a couple of penalties in the second half to give him a personal tally of 14 points, while his late miss was his only unsuccessful attempt.

Italy peppered Australia's line throughout a frantic second period with Ben Alexander and Kurtley Beale coming up with try-saving tackles.

After scoring against England last weekend, Cummins' first-half try was only Australia's second of the tour and came after a simple shift to the right edge opened up space for the Western Force flyer.

Berrick Barnes slotted three penalty goals in the first half before Beale took over the kicking with the Australian fullback complaining of a tight groin.

Australia lost halfback Brett Sheehan in the 31st minute when his left leg was twisted awkwardly in a ruck and prop Benn Robinson left the field six minutes later after taking a heavy knock.

The Wallabies were reduced to 14 men for the final two minutes after winger Digby Ioane, who replaced Cummins in the 72nd minute, was yellow-carded for taking out a man in the air after catching a Beale chip-kick.

-AAP

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