Australia warm up for England with win over Italy

Emmeline MOORE
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Australia's lock Izack Rodda tackles Italy's flanker Johan Meyer during the Wallabies 26-7 victory

Marika Koroibete scored two tries as Australia beat Italy 26-7 on Saturday amid controversy in Padua over two disallowed scores for the hosts, as the Wallabies relieved the pressure on under-fire coach Michael Cheika ahead of next week's clash with England at Twickenham.

Koroibete crossed twice in five first half minutes and Taniela Tupou and Will Genia added two more after the break to get Australia back to winning ways after last weekend's defeat to Wales in Cardiff.

However it wasn't all an easy ride against Italy, who held out against the two-time world champions for the first half an hour and were enraged by Tito Tebaldi and Braam Steyn both having tries disallowed in the first 15 minutes.

"I'm definitely angry," said Italy coach Conor O'Shea. "Tebaldi scored a try. At that moment it could have changed the game."

The win was a boost For Australian counterpart Cheika, whose side have just four wins out of 12 games this season.

"I'm not going to say anything about the refree ... I thought we were really good considering the situation of the season," said Cheika.

"Now we have to look to see what we need next week (against England).

"We love going to Twickenham, love the crowd hating us, so let's get it on!"

Cheika will be sweating on the fitness of former captain David Pocock for the England clash after the flanker was forced off in the 52nd minute as a precautionary measure thanks a head knock.

Italy came into the match off last weekend's impressive 28-17 win over Georgia in Florence, but paid for a lack of discipline on Saturday.

Koroibete, who played rugby league for Fiji, had been named as a late replacement for injured Jordan Petaia, 18, who had been set to make his test debut.

Veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper, returning for the first time since August 2016, played a role in both Koroibete's tries.

The 34-year-old Ashley-Cooper ran out for his 117th Test and in doing so became the third-most capped Wallabies player ahead of former captain Nathan Sharpe.

- 'Destroyed' -

Jake Gordon made his Australian debut with Israel Folau shifting to fullback to accommodate Ashley-Cooper.

Italy threatened with Jayden Hayward doing well breaking the Australian defence early, kicking the ball forward for Steyn but the Australians took him out just before the try line.

Soon after Steyn thought he had opened the scoring only for his try to be ruled out when his foot was adjudged to have stepped into touch.

Tebaldi broke through after 13 minutes with a solo run but the referee ruled that he was in an offside position.

But Samu Kerevi lit the spark for the Wallabies, with good work as Ashley-Cooper and David Pocock set up Koroibete who went over for the first try, quickly getting a foothold in the game with a second.

Matt To'omua converted both for a 14-0 half-time lead.

Tupou added a third just after the break before Italy wing Mattia Bellini got Italy off the mark with Tommaso Allan converting.

Australia held on despite Scott Sio being sin binned after 59 minutes with Italy losing Bellini to a shoulder injury.

Genia came off the bench to score Australia's fourth just before the end as the Azzurri fell to their 18th straight defeat against the Wallabies.

"Today wasn't the fault of the referee, it was our fault," continued O'Shea.

"The players are pretty destroyed. We had so many chances, we lacked precision and patience against an incredibly physical and focussed Australian team."

Italy play world champions New Zealand in Rome on November 24, with Australia taking on England the same day at Twickenham.

"We stuck solid, we lost a player but we resisted well," said Australian captain Michael Hooper.

"I was pleased with the huge effort even it we're a little disappointed with how we gave up the try with a bad bit of execution."