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Italy make history by downing the Wallabies in Florence

By AAP
Michele Lamaro of Italy reacts after Italy win a penalty at a scrum during the Autumn International match between Italy and Australia at Stadio Artemio Franchi on November 12, 2022 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Timothy Rogers/Getty Images)

The Wallabies have plumbed new lows, losing to Italy for the first time in a 28-27 thriller in Florence.

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Rookie playmaker Ben Donaldson missed a chance after fulltime to boot Australia to victory but pushed his conversion attempt wide as the Azzurri rejoiced in a famous victory on Saturday.

Dave Rennie will forever be haunted for making a dozen changes to his starting line-up after becoming the first coach in 19 Tests and a 40-year rivalry to preside over a Wallabies defeat to the 12th-ranked Italians.

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But while the raft of personnel changes after last week’s spirited 30-29 loss to France in Paris denied the Wallabies cohesion and continuity, ill-discipline once again cost Rennie’s side dearly.

World rugby’s most penalised tier-one outfit conceded 16 penalties at Stadio Artemio Franchi to be on the back foot all afternoon.

Botched lineouts, poor defensive reads and fundamental errors also brought the Wallabies unstuck in a shocker that lea ves Rennie with a 37.5 per cent winning record from his 32-Test tenure.

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The Wallabies were untidy from the get-go, winger Tom Wright knocking on from the opening kick-off to gift Italy the first attacking opportunity.

Three points were enough as the Azzurri notched the first points of the match.

The Wallabies, not overly respecting their opposition, turned down the chance for points of their own with a penalty soon after down the other end before Noah Lolesio eventually accepted a shot from in front to level up.

Wallabies halfback Jake Gordon was yellow-carded for bumping Allan in to touch off the ball after Melbourne-bound, Brisbane-raised Monty Ioane had instigated a threatening left-side raid.

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Cashing in on their one-man advantage, it was right winger Pierre Bruno who crossed in the corner for the first try.

The Wallabies then paid the price for being slow too the breakdown after a midfield burst from Will Skelton.

The Azzurri turned possession over and showed slic k hands to quickly spread the ball right to Capuozzo, who dummied and raced over to give Italy a 17-3 lead.

An airborne Wright try finally bagged Australia’s first try in the 31st minute but Lolesio missed two attempts at the conversion after a rare second shot following an illegal charge from the hosts, leaving the Wallabies trailing by nine points at the break.

An Australian fightback appeared in the offing when Fraser McReight touched down and Lolesio converted to reduce the deficit to two points straight after halftime.

But the Wallabies found themselves under intense pressure when fullback Capuozzo bagged his second try to leave Italy 10 points in front with minutes remaining.

A Tom Robertson try, which Lolesio converted from the sideline, then a five-pointer to fellow replacement forward Cadeyrn Neville in the 81st minute gave the Wallabies an opportunity to snatch victory.

But with Lolesio off, Donaldson – just minutes into his Test debut – steppe d up and pushed his shot wide.

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