Koroibete double eases Wallabies home
MATCH REPORT: A first-half double by wing Marika Koroibete saw the Wallabies bounce back with a scrappy 26-7 win over Italy in Stadio Euganeo, Padova, on Saturday.
Australia had a 21-0 lead after 43 minutes – in a scrappy match, overshadowed by a number of contentious calls from French referee Pascal Gaüzère.
However, the Koroibete double – scored in the 29th and 34th minutes – was enough to see the Wallabies home.
Taniela Tupou and Will Genia added two more after the break to get the Wallabies back on the winning track after last weekend’s defeat to Wales in Cardiff.
Italy wing Mattia Bellini got Italy off the mark with a try after the break with Tommaso Allan converting, but the Azzurri fell to their 18th defeat against the Wallabies, and tenth on home soil
Italy’s had held out against the two-time world champions for the first half an hour in north-eastern Italy with Tito Tebaldi and Braam Steyn both having tries disallowed for the Azzurri.
But Koroibete broke through after 30 minutes in the Stadio Euganeo, scoring two tries within five minutes and Matt Toomua converting both for a 14-0 half-time lead.
Koroibete, a rugby league convert, 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.
Jake Gordon made his Australian debut with Israel Folau shifting to fullback to accommodate veteran Ashley-Cooper.
The 34-year-old Ashley-Cooper ran out for his 117th Test and in doing so becomes the third-most capped Wallabies player ahead of former captain Nathan Sharpe.
Conor O’Shea’s Italian side were coming off last weekend’s impressive 28-17 win over Georgia in Florence, but paid for a lack of discipline.
Jayden Hayward did well breaking the Australian defence early, kicking the ball forward for Steyn but the Australians took him out just before the try line.
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.
Tupou added a third just after the break before Italy wing Mattia Bellini got Italy off the mark with Tommaso Allan converting.
But Genia came off the bench to score Australia’s fourth as the Azzurri fell to their 18th defeat against the Wallabies, and tenth on home soil.
Italy play world champions New Zealand in Rome on November 24, with Australia taking on England the same day at Twickenham.
Tries: Koroibete 2, Tupou, Genia
Cons: Toomua 3
Yellow card: Scott Sio (Australia, 59 – cynical foul, deliberately slapping the ball down)
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Italy: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Abraham Steyn, 7 Jake Polledri, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Dean Budd, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini (captain), 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Johan Meyer, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Luca Morisi.
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt To’omua, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Jermaine Ainsley, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Will Genia, 22 Kurtley Beale, 23 Dane Haylett-Petty.
Referee: Pascal Gaüzère (France)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Mike Adamson (Scotland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)