Nick Mallett’s Italians were eight minutes from a glorious upset in Rome, only to be denied by a final five minutes Wallabies flurry in losing 30-20.
The Italians led 14-11 and then 17-14 before having a chance to take a 23-20 lead in the last 10 minutes. The penalty missed and with it went the momentum as Australia battled back to score 10 points in five minutes to open their Eurpoean tour with victory.
The Wallabies were ordinary and on this performance they will lose more than they win in the remaining month in Europe.
Mallett, who has given Italy a competitive edge, will be disheartened that his team imploded when victory was theirs for the taking.
Italy - try: Bergamasco. pens: Marcato 2, Orquera 2. D/G: Marcato.
Australia - tries: Turner, Cooper. conv: Giteau. Pens: Mortlock. Giteau 5.