Not even a slow start and a double-digit penalty count could dampen the Wallabies’ mood after their second-half surge harpooned Italy 32-6 in their World Cup opener on Sunday.
Four second-half tries saw the Wallabies sweep aside any chance of an upset after Italy restricted them to 6-all at halftime. But conceding penalties is not a statistic easily digested by Robbie Deans’ teams over the years.
The Australians were on the wrong side of a lopsided 15-9 penalty count from referee Alain Rolland, a result of the Wallabies being caned at the breakdown and also being pinged for backchat.
Yet Aussie coach Deans was not complaining and instead urged the officials to keep punishing law-breakers around the rucks during the showcase tournament.
‘‘Let’s hope they continue to be diligent . . . most importantly for the viewing public because I think it is important for the game,’’ Deans said.
Skipper James Horwill admitted the Wallabies were too slow to adapt to Rolland’s rulings and this, as well as working on perfecting their lineout, will be areas to polish.
In contrast to the All Blacks, who struggled to maintain their charge in the second half against Tonga last Friday night, the Wallabies’ attack was of the slowburning variety.
For Italy, it was as if the halftime break siphoned-off their passion.
For a period, Albany was converted into the North Shore’s version of Little Italy as the majority of the 25,731 crowd revelled in the bumbling Aussies’ inability to hold possession or string together phases.
While he would have been annoyed to lose three lineouts on his team’s throw, Deans would have been content with the continued surge in form of blindside flanker Rocky Elsom, the way new skipper Horwill is settling into that role and not amassing any injuries ahead of their match against Ireland next weekend.