Australia too strong for spirited Italy
Italy produced a game display but Australia proved too strong as recalled centre Berrick Barnes landed six penalties in a 32-14 victory for the Wallabies on Saturday.
Australia scored two tries to one and largely dominated, particularly in a first half played mostly in Italian territory.
While the Azzurri proved dogged at times, the result was never in doubt as the Aussies bounced back from their defeat to England at Twickenham.
Australia made a lively start going through five phases from the kick-off before Italy were penalised and Barnes landed his first successful kick.
Some of the Wallabies' early running was imaginative and incisive, carving up the Italian midfield.
On nine minutes they spread the ball wide right and although Lachie Turner was held up just short by Luke McLean, Australia recycled the ball and Drew Mitchell burrowed over, with Barnes kicking the extras.
Italy were struggling to get any field position and although Mirco Bergamasco landed a penalty, so too did Barnes to give Australia a 13-3 lead after 14 minutes.
Barnes wasn't so successful with a drop goal attempt from 25 yards that dropped just wide.
And he was the culprit as the tourists knocked at the door again, spilling the ball three yards out.
Gonzalo Canale came to Italy's rescue on 33 minutes as he brought down Adam Ashley-Cooper a few yards from the line as the Aussies again looked to break through.
However, the Italians were having success in the scrums and of the four in the first half, all resulted in penalties for the home team, two of which were converted.
One of those was a brilliant kick from inside his own half by Luciano Orquera, although the referee went to the TMO and due to an earpiece malfunction there was a long wait before the points were confirmed.
Australia had another chance before the break but captain Rocky Elsom, with only fullback McLean to beat, sent a poor pass to prop Ben Alexander and the chance went begging.
Just on the stroke of half time, Bergamasco landed a penalty to close the gap to four points, although that in no way reflected Australia's superiority.
Italy made an enterprising start to the second period, camping inside Wallabies territory and captain Sergio Parisse even broke through with only Quade Cooper to beat.
But the Australian, whose tackling came in for such criticism against England last week, kept his eye on the man and Parisse offloaded aimlessly without a player outside him.
But a trio of penalties from Barnes pushed Australia's lead to 22-9.
Italy had another chance when Bergamasco came in off the left-wing and broke the gain line but as the Azzurri shifted the ball to the right, winger Tommaso Benvenuti knocked on.
Barnes kicked a sixth penalty but eight minutes from time Italian substitute Robert Barbieri reacted quickly to a loose ball that came out of a five-yard scrum to dive over, although there was a suspicion he knocked on when first trying to pick-up the ball.
Still Elsom had the last word in similar circumstances as Italy switched off at a scrum up the other end and he ran over unopposed.