Italy going for the kill against wounded Wallabies

2018-11-16 13:00
Michael Cheika (Getty Images)

Milan - Italy are looking to turn the screw on Michael Cheika and gun for their first ever win over ailing Australia, who are in the mire after a terrible recent run of results. 

Pressure is mounting on Wallabies coach Cheika thanks to the two-time world champions gaining just three wins from 11 Tests this season, with the latest defeat coming against Wales in Cardiff last weekend. 

Italy have lost all 17 matches they have ever played with Australia, with nine of those defeats coming on Italian soil, but with the touring side in such a bad state Conor O'Shea's team are looking for what would be a famous win in Padua. 

"Coming off a win always helps from in terms of mood and self-confidence," said Italy forwards coach Giampiero De Carli after last weekend's 28-17 win over Georgia. 

"Australia are a team with a high level of technical skill. We'll have to try to keep up the pressure and to be sharper in attack, but the support of our crowd will surely be a help." 

There has been speculation that defeat at the Stadio Euganeo could be the final straw for 51-year-old Cheika, whose side have slipped to seventh in the world rankings. 

But Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle insisted that Cheika was contracted until the World Cup in Japan next year. 

"It certainly wasn't a game we were far away from," she said of the 9-6 defeat by Wales. 

"We could have ended up with the win. 

"I know no one is more frustrated than the players themselves and they'll be looking to turn that around this weekend." 

Italy, ranked 13th in the world, shocked South Africa 20-18 in Florence in November 2016. 

And they hope they can repeat that feat against another of the world's top teams. 

O'Shea has made just one change to the side that beat Georgia, bringing in fullback Jayden Hayward. 

Cheika has rung the changes with Jake Gordon and Jordan Petaia set to make their Australia debuts. 

Gordon, 25, was selected ahead of Will Genia, who drops back to the bench. 

Petaia, 18, will become the youngest Australian debutant since James O'Connor in 2008 and the third-youngest ever, behind Brian Ford and O'Connor. 

Petaia will play on the wing, with Israel Folau shifting to fullback to accommodate the most-capped player, Adam Ashley-Cooper, who returns for the first time since August 2016. 

The 34-year-old Ashley-Cooper will run out for his 117th Test in north-eastern Italy and in doing so will become the third-most capped Australian of all time ahead of former Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe. 

Matt Toomua will wear the Wallabies number 10 shirt for the first time in over five years with Bernard Foley shifting to inside centre and Kurtley Beale on the bench. 

Australia last played Italy in 2017 in Brisbane, with the Wallabies pulling away late to win 40-27. 

They last played in Padua ten years ago with Sekope Kepu, O'Connor and Quade Cooper making their Test debuts in the 30-20 win. 

"Australia are a tough team to tackle," said 48-year-old Irishman O'Shea. "We've achieved an important victory against Georgia. We know that playing our best rugby can put them in trouble." 

Italy beat Japan 25-22 in Kobe last June but suffered a heavy 54-7 defeat by Six Nations champions Ireland in Chicago earlier this month. 

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



15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Abraham Jurgens Steyn, 7 Jake Polledri, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Dean Budd, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini (captain), 1 Andrea Lovotti

Substitutes: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Cherif Traorè, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Johan Meyer, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Luca Morisi


15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Jordan Petaia, 10 Matt Toomua, 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

Substitutes: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Jermaine Ainsley, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Rory Arnold, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Will Genia, 22 Kurtley Beale, 23 Dane Haylett-Petty

Read more on:    italy  |  australia  |  raelene castle  |  michael cheika  |  rugby


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