Italy's Michele Lamaro (L), Sebastian Negri (Top R) and Tommaso Menoncello celebrate victory
Florence (Italy) (AFP) - Italy stunned Australia with a 28-27 win in the Autumn Nations Series on Saturday, their first ever win over the Wallabies and a landmark win against one of rugby’s heavy hitters.
Ange Capuozzo dotted down twice and Pierre Bruno scored the Azzurri’s other try on a remarkable day for Kieran Crowley’s side in Florence, with Tommaso Allan and Edoardo Padovani kicking the remaining 13 points between them.
Italy’s joyous players did a lap of the Stadio Artemio Franchi after winning the fifth of their last six Test matches and although Australia changed almost the entire team which lost narrowly to France in Paris last weekend, Saturday’s victory is still a major triumph.
They did it after incredible last-gasp drama, Ben Donaldson’s missed conversion from Cadeyrn Neville add-time try leaving Italy with a famous win in front of an incredulous 20,000 crowd.
“It’s an incredible win, there are no words that can describe it,” said hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi to Sky.
“We were ready from the first minute and we went out onto the field with the right spirit. We defended and attacked brilliantly.”
It was also a win obtained without Italy’s star man, Montpellier fly-half Paolo Garbisi, ruled out with a hip injury the morning of the match.
Australia scored their other two tries through Tom Wright and Fraser McReight either side of half-time but fell to their second defeat of their three Autumn Tests so far.
Italy face South Africa in Genoa in their final match of the year next weekend and Lucchesi sad there were “no limits” to what they could achieve.
- Italy dreaming -
Italy showed defensive solidity in the opening stages, forcing Australia to kick an equalising penalty in the sixth minute after holding off intense pressure.
And after piling into the Aussies with a succession of line-outs the Italians scored the first try of the match, Bruno touching down in the corner in the 19th minute.
Australia were rocked as the volume inside the Franchi was turned up, and nine minutes later the hosts had a barely-believable 17-3 lead with a fabulously taken, and converted, try after Lucchesi recovered possession.
Capuozzo was most famous for his role in the Six Nations winner in Cardiff back in March, but his score on Saturday was possibly even better, the France born full-back finishing off a quick-fire passing move with a slinky-hipped dummy before crossing the line.
Australia closed the gap to nine points almost straight away through Tom Wright, who strolled into the corner after collecting Noah Lolesio’s defence-splitting pass.
Ange Capuozzo cannot escape Australia's Mark Nawaqanitawase
That gap was reduced to two almost immediately after half-time when McReight broke down resilient Italy defending by forcing himself over the line for their first converted try.
Capuozzo had Italy dreaming of a famous win when he added his second excellent try of the day in the 64th minute.
But the hosts then handed Australia the chance to move back to three points with a poor error from Lorenzo Cannone which allowed Tom Robertson to slide into the corner and Lolesio to convert.
Allan’s replacement Edoardo Padovani kicked the last points of the day with five minutes remaining and that penalty proved to be crucial, as after Neville crossed the line Robertson had to make his conversion but shot wide to the delight of the home crowd.