Wallabies surge clear for victory
A Quade Cooper master class put paid to Italy as Australia impressed with a 32-6 victory at Albany's North Harbour Stadium on Sunday.
In the space of 10 minutes early in the second half Australia extinguished Italy's fire in the Rugby World Cup opener.
Replacement wing James O'Connor made the difference, feeding off the speed of halfback Will Genia and the inspiration of fly-half Cooper's passing variations.
It was an impressive display of control from Australia, who faced an Italy team determined in defence but lacking the flair to seriously test their opponents.
It took 48 minutes for the gaps to appear in Italy's rearguard, but when they did winger Digby Ioane was perfectly placed to speed in when fed by Cooper.
His pace peeled the defence back and saw him link with fullback Kurtley Beale, who had No.8 Radike Samo in support.
As the play moved to the right newcomer O'Connor went close to scoring.
In the resulting maul it was prop Ben Alexander who drove over the try line to break the impasse.
Minutes later a delayed pass from Cooper to Adam Ashley-Cooper created a gap for the latter to claim Australia's second try in the 55th minute.
Italy then failed to control a kick from the re-start, allowing Australia to break on the blindside.
It was Cooper's back pass to O'Connor that saw him race through to score, before converting his own try.
In the 65th minute, a solid scrum provided the base for Cooper to feed back inside to Ioane, and the latter's speed allowed the Italians no chance.
Earlier, Cooper landed penalty goals in the 19th and 30th minutes of the first-half.
Mirco Bergamasco returned fire with two Italy penalties in the final two minutes of the half to see the sides go to the break at 6-6.
Australia had attempted to open up the Italians, with flankers Rocky Elsom and David Pocock, as well as Cooper, all enjoying strong runs.
But in each case the Italian defence was quickly in place to stifle the breakouts.
Australia's best chance came on 30 minutes when Cooper kicked a grubber to Ashley-Cooper's corner only to see the ball reach touch first.
Italy were solid in the lineouts, where locks Cornelius van Zyl and Carlo Del Fava combined with blindside flanker Alessandro Zanni in securing good ball.
Playing into the wind there were few chances for the outside backs.
A concern for Italy was the sight of prop Martin Castrogiovanni limping from the ground after 72 minutes.
Next up for Australia is a showdown with Ireland in Auckland next Saturday, while Italy tackle Russia a day later.
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