Rugby: Cooper returns to glittering form

Quade Cooper produced his best test display since his ill-fated 2011 World Cup campaign as the Wallabies released the pressure valve with a 50-20 tour demolition of Italy.

Cooper returned to his glittering form of 2010-11 as the mercurial playmaker combined beautifully with his skilful backline to cut the Italian defence to ribbons yesterday in Turin.

After the pain of last week's 20-13 defeat to England, the seven-try rout was a crucial result for Australia as they desperately needed to put their European tour back on course.

Stephen Moore, Israel Folau, Tevita Kuridrani, Michael Hooper, James Slipper and two-try hero Nick Cummins were among the stars at Stadio Olympico. Enjoying his extra responsibilities as vice-captain, Cooper led the way by setting up three of the five tries scored in his hour on the field as the Wallabies' pack neutralised the Italian scrum threat for a 33-10 lead.

There were deft last passes for tries to Ben Mowen and Adam Ashley-Cooper but nowhere was the Queensland Reds five-eighth's skills better shown than when he set up winger Nick Cummins' second five-pointer.

It was a reminder of Cooper's best dazzling play from the 2011 Super rugby season as he bamboozled four bewildered defenders with a series of jinking steps and dummies from a kick return before finding Cummins.

"He confused some of their blokes, some of our blokes, definitely me," Cummins said. "At the end, the ball landed in my lap. There was no one there. He bamboozled everyone."

Cooper's career slumped heavily once he kneed Richie McCaw in the head before the World Cup as the pressure of being New Zealand's 'Public Enemy No 1' ended up getting to the Kiwi-born No 10.

The 25-year-old, who started his return to form in the 54-16 thumping of Argentina a month ago, was particularly pleased by the Wallabies' teamwork to scorch a side that beat France and Ireland at home this year.

"In recent times, that was probably one of my best games."

- AAP

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