Wallabies deflate in second half for unconvincing win
AN unconvincing 22-19 win against Italy in Florence has guaranteed Australia a top four seeding at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The Wallabies made all the running in the first half, a converted try to winger Nick Cummins and five penalties sending the visitors to the break with a handy 22-6 lead.
It was the second try in consecutive matches on the Spring Tour for Cummins - no other Australian player has crossed the stripe in the team's three matches in Europe.
It was a different story in the second half, however.
Italian flanker Robert Barbieri pounced on a loose pass to cross for the team's first try of the match in the 41st minute, the conversion cutting the Wallabies' lead to just 11 points.
The home team continued to apply pressure and two more penalties kicked by fly-half Luciano Oquera reduced the gap to three points with 25 minutes on the clock.
The Wallabies struggled to get out of their own half, and with just one minute remaining, Oquera had the chance to level the scores after the Italians were awarded a penalty 40m out.
Fortunately for the Australians the kick sailed wide.
The results, combined with England's one-point loss to South Africa at Twickenham, cemented New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and France as the top four ranked nations and guaranteed they would be drawn in opposite pools when the World Cup draw is conducted next month.
England will be in the next tier with Ireland, while Wales can join that group if its defeats Australia in the final match of the European Tour at Cardiff's Millenium Stadium next weekend.
If the Wallabies win, Argentina and Samoa would join England and Ireland in that second group of teams.
RESULTS: Australia 22 (Cummins try; Barnes 3, Beale 2 pen; Barnes conv) b Italy 19 (Barbieri try; Orquera 4 pen, conv). Ireland 46 b Argentina 24; South Africa 16 b England 15; Tonga 21 b Scotland 15; France 22 b Samoa 14; New Zealand 33 b Wales 10.