Pocock neck injury sours Wallabies win
THE Wallabies have stumbled to an unconvincing 26-7 win over Italy and face the prospect of losing David Pocock for next weekend's tough clash against England.
Pocock was taken off the field with a neck injury in the 52nd minute in Padua and will be racing the clock to line up at Twickenham, where England will feel confident after watching Australia scrape to its fourth win of the year.
Coach Michael Cheika is hopeful Pocock will be fit for next Saturday's game.
"He's obviously got a pretty nasty stinger on his neck," Cheika said.
"It was giving him the burns down the arm for quite a while. We'll just wait and see what happens and see how he recovers over the next couple of days."
The four-tries-to-one win came despite a plucky Italian side frustrating the Wallabies with energetic tackling and targeting of their set-piece with mixed results, while Australia struggled to clinically finish their chances.
Nevertheless, after immense pressure on Cheika's side, any win will be taken as a positive step by the Wallabies.
"I feel great," Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said.
"We won, we grinded, the changerooms people are smiling. It's a great reward for some hard work.
"It's important to enjoy these and reward ourselves with a win against our name because we haven't had a huge amount this year.
"It is good to take these forward and run with the momentum into next week while digesting this and enjoying this is really important."
Marika Koroibete, a last-minute replacement for injured teenager Jordan Petaia, scored two tries while Samu Kerevi was named man-of-the-match after making several breaks.
The Wallabies led 14-0 at halftime after a scrappy first half hour, before Koroibete bagged a double in the 31st and 36th minutes.
Taniela Tupou scored a brilliant try early in the second half, showing the skill, speed and power that he displayed regularly throughout Super Rugby this year.
The tight-head took a high pass from halfback Jake Gordon, turned on his heels and spun around to get away from the rush defence before getting a one-handed offload away to Jack Dempsey.
The flanker skipped away from a tackler before finding Tupou backing up in support, and the 135kg bulldozer ran over halfback Tito Tebaldi and carried No.8 Abrahan Steyn over the line to score.
At 21-0 up in the 44th minute, the Wallabies should have had the momentum to open the flood gates.
Instead, two minutes later, Bernard Foley threw a loose pass that was scooped up by Italian winger Mattia Bellini who sprinted 60m to score and make it 21-7.
Italy was emboldened and piled pressure on Australia with renewed vigour.
In the 60th minute prop Scott Sio was sin-binned for a deliberate knockdown of a pass with Italy deep in attack, however the hosts bungled the lineout from their penalty to give Australia reprieve.
Italy dominated the ensuing scrums but could not find points with their one-man advantage.
Late in the game Israel Folau intercepted the ball near his own line and looked set to race 90m to score, but was chased down by Bellini 20m out before Kerevi knocked on from the next phase.
Replacement halfback Will Genia scored a try from the ruck base late in the match to give Australia a 19-point victory that ensured the Wallabies continued their undefeated streak against Italy, now at 18 Tests.