The good, the bad and the ugly from the Wallabies win over Italy.
The good, the bad and the ugly from the Wallabies win over Italy.

Player ratings: ‘Don’t ever play him here again’

A 26-7 win over Italy has put some smiles back on the faces of the Wallabies and shown there is still life in the 34-year-old legs of Adam Ashley-Cooper.

It is still a long way from Padua to Twickenham and the level needed to topple England next weekend but, as ever, there was spirit to the Wallabies if not always precision.

JIM TUCKER hands out his Wallabies' player ratings for the Test win in Padua.

Winners are grinners: Wallabies coach Michael Cheika shares a laugh with prop Allan Alaalatoa. Picture: Getty
Winners are grinners: Wallabies coach Michael Cheika shares a laugh with prop Allan Alaalatoa. Picture: Getty

ISRAEL FOLAU: The fullback sometimes escapes scrutiny because of all the good things he does on the field. The number of wasteful one-handed off-loads from Folau keeps on mounting. He threw a shocker into touch when pushing a pass to Marika Koroibete in the opening minutes and threw another poor one. Aside from that, he had a strong presence and his late 65m run when intercepting a pass relieved a lot of pressure. Rating: 6.5

ADAM ASHLEY-COOPER: Good, solid rugby smarts are a currency the Wallabies can definitely use. Ashley-Cooper has more grey in his hair than George Clooney these days but, at 34, the value of his recall showed. He had a hand in three of the four tries, most notably with a good step inside and off-load for Koroibete's second try. As importantly, he got back to save a tricky situation when Italy kicked the ball through plus he paired with Kurtley Beale for a try-saving tackle on the tryline. Rating: 7

SAMU KEREVI: The value of his return to the side in recent weeks has been huge. He just makes big, direct metres as his stats show...14 runs for 127m, including a linebreak and three tackle busts. He made the strong break out wide to set up the opening Koroibete try and several more. He also made two ripper tackles to stop Italian players in their tracks. The ploy where Kerevi was used just off the back of the lineout to set a good front-foot platform was the first sign of lineout brains for a while. Rating: 7.5

BERNARD FOLEY: Please, don't ever play Foley at inside centre again. Really struggled to find his mark with passes to outside supports and ran across field. One poor quick-hands effort dumped the ball on the ground behind Koroibete which the Italians gathered to run in their only try from 55m out. One nice pass did put Kerevi into space. Rating: 4.5

Marika Koroibete touches down to score the Wallabies’ opening try. Picture: Getty
Marika Koroibete touches down to score the Wallabies’ opening try. Picture: Getty

MARIKA KOROIBETE: You can't ask for much more from a winger than two strong finishes for two tries. Actually, you can. He loves running into people like he did in rugby league. Sometimes there is a better, head-up option. He's learning rugby slowly and he may yet end 2018 not being one of the Wallabies' top two wingers. Rating: 6.5

MATT TOOMUA: The Wallabies will at least head to next year's World Cup with three flyhalf options to cover injuries now Foley, Kurtley Beale and Toomua have played No.10 this season. Exactly as you'd expect him to play No.10 but with stronger communication than in his early years. His distribution was sound without flair and his tackling was excellent as always. Rating: 6.5

Jake Gordon wears his Test debut cap following the victory. Picture: Getty
Jake Gordon wears his Test debut cap following the victory. Picture: Getty

JAKE GORDON: Highly promising Test debut that showed the value of a halfback with a lust for taking a few quick steps from the ruckbase. Early in the second half, he darted just three or four paces but it put the defence on the backfoot and he freed Izack Rodda on a 30m gallop. The Wallabies need to go direct like this far more often. His passing was accurate. He does take a bigger wind-up than Will Genia. One moment of hesitation had him fleeced by his opposite number and on another occasion his pass was intercepted off a lineout before it was ruled as off-side. Just things to work on. Rating: 6.5

Pocock left the field with a neck injury. Picture: Getty
Pocock left the field with a neck injury. Picture: Getty

DAVID POCOCK: There was the classic forced penalty early in the game when the backrower zeroed in on Italian ball. Strong tackling, big presence and some linkwork. Leaving the field with another neck knock is a major worry and not just because any absence from the Test against England will reduced the chances of a win. He only plays rugby one way, at full-tilt, and you'd hate to see his career finished by factors other than his own call. Rating: 6.5

MICHAEL HOOPER: Much more influential game from the skipper and it started with his excellent try-saving tackle in the corner to deny Italy in the opening minutes. Strong defence throughout which finished with a turnover tackle. Rating: 7

JACK DEMPSEY: The footwork of the flanker is a big plus because he does elude tacklers better than many of Australia's backrow options. It was his neat step by a tackler and pop pass from the ground that were two top skills in the Taniela Tupou try. It's not a big backrow when Pocock, Hooper and Dempsey are partners and that is a worry. Badly missed one tackle when the Italians broke out. Rating: 6

ADAM COLEMAN: Organised a better lineout but that has to be kept in perspective because the Italians were a mess in this area. Typically, he was physical and shifted his short passes nicely. Rating: 6

IZACK RODDA: Terrific game from the big lock and we lost count at five lineout steals. One invaluable pinch was at a 5m lineout when the Wallabies were down to 14 men. He's been a lineout thief all season but never better than in this Test. Still found time for a 30m gallop, 14 ball-carries in all and his normal blue-collar work. Rating: 7.5

TANIELA TUPOU: This was more like it from "Tongan Thor" as a starter. He had no running impact in his previous Tests when a starter. In this one, he packed 14 runs into his 46 minutes. Best of all, they all had intent from taking the first ball-carry for his team. In that mood, it was no surprise he settled the Test. A strong, veering run with the footy, like a tennis ball in one hand, early in the second half became a try when he backed up for a second touch off Dempsey's good work. Rating: 7

FOLAU FAINGA'A: The lineout operated better apart from one crooked throw so that must reflect well on him. A couple of early scrum wobblies from the front-row. Rating 6

SCOTT SIO: Made two strong tackles and won a turnover in the opening three minutes so was making an impact from the outset. Penalised for dropping a scrum early but a positive factor until he spent 10 minutes in the sin bin for a deliberate knock down of a pass. Rating: 6

Folau Faingaa (L) and Scott Sio strike a post after the win. Picture: Getty
Folau Faingaa (L) and Scott Sio strike a post after the win. Picture: Getty

REPLACEMENTS

PETE SAMU: No great impact from the replacement backrower but did win a nice turnover in his 34 minutes. Rating: 5.5

TATAFU POLOTA-NAU: Some better play from the replacement hooker and his good charge in the final minutes set up the platform for Will Genia's try. Rating: 6

SEKOPE KEPU: Did his job in the second half and his short offload to Polota-Nau is what the Wallabies should always be doing more of. Rating: 6

ROB SIMMONS: Played 30 minutes. The scrum and lineout were sturdy but a fresh man should make a powerful play more often than "Simmo" does when he comes on these days. Rating: 5.5

Tatafu Polota-Nau and Sekope Kepu came off the bench to secure the victory. Picture: Getty
Tatafu Polota-Nau and Sekope Kepu came off the bench to secure the victory. Picture: Getty

KURTLEY BEALE: Partnered with Ashley-Cooper for a try-saving tackle on the line when the Wallabies were down to 14 men. Rating: 5.5

JERMAINE AINSLEY: Yet to convince anyone he is a Test-class scrummager but every bit of exposure at the top level is valuable to reach that goal. Penalised for dropping one scrum to the turf. Will be learning all the time. Rating: NA

WILL GENIA: A 15-minute cameo in Test No.99. Grabbed a late try from the ruckbase. Rating: NA

DANE HAYLETT-PETTY: Big-part minutes but part of the most hyphenated substitution in Wallabies history when Adam Ashey-Cooper was replaced by Dane Haylett-Petty. Rating: NA