Australia cruises to a 30-point win against Italy in Turin.
Skipper Ben Mowen believes Australia have set themselves up well for victory against Ireland next week after a 50-20 rout of Italy saw the Wallabies make amends for a series of recent setbacks.
“We feel pretty confident after a win like that but we’ve already spoken downstairs about next week,” said Mowen, one of six Australian try-scorers in a one-sided victory at Turin’s Olympic Stadium.
“We’re after two in a row.”
If Australia beat Ireland, 40-9 winners over Samoa under new coach Joe Schmidt on Saturday, it will go part way to making amends for losing eight out of their previous 11 encounters.
Australia’s hopes of belying recent form and winning a Grand Slam on their five-match spring tour of Europe came undone in 40, error-strewn minutes at Twickenham last week when England overturned a 13-6 half-time deficit to prevail 20-13.
That performance gave Italy hope of building on their promising 2012 performances against the Wallabies, a 19-23 defeat in Rome, but Ewen McKenzie’s side had other ideas.
Defeat to England set in motion an intense week of training in which the Wallabies worked on scrummaging, defence and producing the width that would allow them to produce crucial, try-scoring play.
Those efforts were rewarded handsomely, the visitors running in seven tries to Italy’s three, Jacques Brunel’s side failing to provide any kind of response after trailing 19-10 at half-time.
“To score seven tries in an away game where people probably didn’t fancy our chances was a good effort,” said McKenzie immediately after the match.
Australian-born Italy full-back Luke McLean had touched down early to help give the hosts a 10-0 lead.
But Mowen, who scored his first Test try in the 16th minute to start the fightback, said the Wallabies never lost belief.
“We knew there was plenty of footy to go and we were very patient,” said Mowen.
“It was good to have that calmness and organisation, because that put us straight back in and we struck back straight after that with a couple of quick tries and really swung the momentum.
“I know the guys’ minds, we’re really proud of the effort we’ve put in but we’ve already flicked in to preparing for Ireland. We know how big that challenge is going to be.”
If Italy had thoughts of producing a stirring fightback in the second half, they were soon kicked into touch.
Australia added another two tries through Nick Cummins and Adam Ashley-Cooper and although Italy replacement Lorenzo Cittadini bundled over to give a flicker of hope, Italy’s defence struggled to deal with wave after wave of attack.
“Our defence just wasn’t at its usual level and when you’re up against a team known for their speed, you can’t let that happen,” said Brunel, whose side host Fiji in Cremona next week.
Australia scored two late tries through Joe Tomane and Israel Folau to virtually seal their 16th successive win in as many attempts over Italy, who scored a consolation through Tommaso Allan, the former Scotland junior player claiming his maiden try for the Azzurri.
The pressure intensified on McKenzie last week, and although Ireland are sure to provide a tougher challenge the coach was delighted at how Australia “handled the criticism from last week and really ripped in on the training paddock”.
“They had a huge game tonight, you could tell the Italian blokes were very frustrated that they weren’t getting that over us,” he said.
“That comes down to the work that front row has done this week under a lot of pressure.”