Australia v Italy, Canberra Stadium
O'Connor stars as Wallabies down Italy
Scrum.com
June 13, 2009
Report Match details
Date/Time: Jun 13, 2009, 19:30 local, 09:30 GMT
Venue: Canberra Stadium
Australia 31 - 8 Italy
Attendance: 22468  Half-time: 17 - 3
Tries: Giteau, Mortlock, O'Connor 3
Cons: Giteau 3
Tries: Robertson
Pens: McLean

Australia kicked off their 2009 Test season with a convincing win as they coasted to a 31-8 victory over Italy in Canberra. The victory was emphatic, Robbie Deans' men scoring five tries to the solitary effort from the visting Italians.

The try-scoring hero was 18-year-old full-back James O'Connor who in his first start for the Wallabies scored a hat-trick. The most impressive of his scores was his final one in which he shrugged off the challenge of the Italy captain Sergio Parisse to surge over in the 58th minute and put the game beyond Italy.

The Italians, as ever, were physical up front but failed to make much use of the ball when presented to their backs while Australian, masterfully marshalled by Matt Giteau, made sure their blows were telling and took all opportunities on offer in the Italian's 22.

O'Connor rapidly got his try-scoring account on the international scene underway touching down in just the third minute after Lachlan Turner provided a simple pass for him to jog over and dot down.

And it was more of the same 25 minutes later when Matt Giteau broke through some feeble Italian defence before putting O'Connor through for his second. Italy threatened to be blown away by Australia at this point and after Giteau himself had scored after a rather fortunate ball bouncing off his knee, some sustained pressure finally earned them a shot at goal by Luke McLean to go into the break 17-3 down.

Nick Mallet clearly had some harsh words for his side as they came out with renewed vigour for the second-half. They were rewarded when Craig Gower, the former Australia rugby league star and in his debut test match, took the ball at pace to the blindside and popped a short ball to Robertson who somehow crashed through six Australian defenders to score.

The Australians though dusted themselves off and as ever had their captain Stirling Mortlock to thank for their resurgence, and when he took a ball on the angle and powered over with would-be Italian defenders trailing in his wake any hope of an Italian upset ended.

It was just left to O'Connor then to round-off the night with his third and firmly announce his arrival on the international stage.

Australia: James O'Connor; Lachie Turner, Stirling Mortlock (capt), Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell; Matt Giteau, Luke Burgess; Benn Robinson, Stephen Moore, Al Baxter, James Horwill, Nathan Sharpe, Dean Mumm, George Smith, Richard Brown

Replacements: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Ben Alexander, Peter Kimlin, David Pocock, Josh Valentine, Quade Cooper, Adam Ashley-Cooper

Italy: Luke McLean, Kaine Robertson, Mirco Bergamasco, Matteo Pratichetti, Alberto Sgarbi, Craig Gower, Pablo Canavosio; Salvatore Perugini, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Fabio Staibano, Quintin Geldenhuys, Carlo Antonio Del Fava, Alessandro Zanni, Mauro Bergamasco, Sergio Parisse (capt).

Replacements: Franco Sbaraglini, Ignacio Rouyet, Marco Bortolami, Paul Derbyshire, Tito Tebaldi, Kristopher Burton, Gonzalo Garcia.

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