Friday 22 September 2017

Australia forced to dig deep to hold off Italian challenge

Australia 40 Italy 27

Australia's Sefa Naivalu reacts after scoring a try
Australia's Sefa Naivalu reacts after scoring a try

Australia held off a fightback from Italy to bounce back from last week's shock defeat by Scotland with a 40-27 victory at the Suncorp Stadium.

The Wallabies were in danger of throwing away a sizeable lead in the closing stages but two late tries spared their blushes.

Tommaso Allan's penalty gave Italy an early advantage but quick-fire converted tries from Sefa Naivalu and Israel Folau put Australia in control.

Allan brought the Azzurri back to within four points of the hosts, but Folau and Naivalu both crossed again either side of Michele Campagnaro's score to give Australia a 28-13 lead in the early stages of the second half.

Edoardo Padovani and Tommaso Benvenuti went over and Allan took his points tally with the boot to 12 to make it a one-point game and set up a grandstand finish.

All the momentum was with Italy when Toby Smith was sin-binned but it was 14 versus 14 after Braam Steyn was shown the yellow card and tries from Bernard Foley - who finished with 15 points - and Reece Hodge secured Australia's triumph.

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