Italy vs Wallabies: Five things we learned

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by Beth Newman

The Wallabies made it home against Italy in Padova.

What are we talking about after that 26-7 win?

1. Wallabies get what they need, now for the finale

A win is a win is a win, right? The Wallabies simply had to get this win in Italy, however they could.

In the end a 19-point victory doesn’t sound like much on paper but it was made of the right stuff - polished defence and some good, old grit.

Now that they have ticked that one off the list, their focus will shift straight to a whole other challenge in London.

Eddie Jones’ England. Jones has been fielding plenty of criticism in a tough year, not unlike the Wallabies, but it doesn’t get much bigger than an England showdown at Twickenham and Australia will need to step up to deliver.

2 Defence lays the foundations

The Wallabies have spent a lot of time talking about defensive improvements and the past two weeks have finally shown it.

Though they lost to Wales, the defensive strides were clear to see and that was visible again this weekend.

Their usual hard workers stepped it up in the tough areas but it was the improvement in aggression and accuracy from a player like Izack Rodda that has made the difference overall.

And again under huge pressure in Padova, the Wallabies stood up without the ball.

For the better part of 10 minutes late in the second half they kept Italy out with a man in the bin. It’s been a while since the Wallabies have shown this kind of consistency in defence and the challenge will be making it three in a row.

3. Attack needs to finish

The Wallabies have one of the most talented backlines in the world on paper.

Fans have seen the likes of Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale, Samu Kerevi and Bernard Foley tear up defences in the past.

On Sunday they made dents but couldn’t finish a lot of their opportunities off.

A dropped ball here, an overzealous offload there and suddenly an attacking chance was dashed.

These are things they need to sort out to start racking up the tries again, or they will be punished by the top sides in the world.

4. Foley-Beale-To’omua question still lingers

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has some dilemmas on his hands next week as he debates his team to take on England.

Cheika gave Matt To’omua the reins at 10 and shifted Bernard Foley to 12.

To’omua had close to his best game since returning to the Australian fold and only vindicated Cheka’s plan.

Foley didn’t have his best game in that second playmaking spot and he was replaced by Beale in the 54th minute.

These three are the key to unlocking the rest of the attack at a basic level and which way the Wallabies go against England will be an intriguing one.

5. Swoop shows his smarts

Adam Ashley-Cooper hadn’t played a Test in two years before Saturday’s clash in Padova and the Wallabies certainly felt his presence.

The 34-year-old had plenty of deft touches and was critical in helping the side finish their attacking chances.

There was a mixed reaction to his call-up into the squad from the public but he more than justified his inclusion against Italy. Now, the next question is has he done enough for a Twickenham outing?

He certainly will have a case.