Cody Walker, Ryan McCauley and their Australian side will play-off for fifth at the World Rugby Under 20s Championship, surviving a first-half scare to ultimately account for Italy reasonably comfortably on Tuesday night (AEST).
Walker, who skippered Kinross’ first XV, and McCauley, who went to primary school at Calare before moving to Sydney, started in the Aussies’ tight five as the junior Wallabies ran in six tries to three to win 42-19.
The Italians’ performance was far more flattering than that margin suggests though, it took a 28-point second-half haul for Australia to blow it out.
The junior Wallabies were clearly superior in the second period but went into the half-time break leading by just two, at 14-12.
Australia flew out of the gates, shooting to a 14-0 lead thanks to a quick-fire double to Queensland Reds winger Izaia Perese.
A cricket score looked likely, until the junior Wallabies let the Italians back into the game.
Side-to-side, pass-and-hope attacking play from Australia combined with the Italian’s lightning fast line-speed mounted pressure on the junior Wallabies, and they succumbed.
Italy scored two five-pointers in the final five minutes of the first half, the second one a diabolical intercept try, to cut the deficit to two at the break.
Australia lifted though, scoring 28 points to seven in a clinical second half showing.
"I thought we played a lot better field position in the second half," Australian coach Simon Cron said.
"Score wise, it blew out a little bit against a good side ... but we were still under par in terms of our execution.
“A lot of our guys were trying to offload through high density contact and just knocking it on, so we made it pretty clear at half-time (we needed to improve there)."
Although the Aussies were below their best Perese, who ended up scoring a hat-trick, was the best player on the field by the length of the straight and their scrum, led by Walker, was simply superb.
Australia constantly shoved Italy backward and pinched plenty against the head, providing the foundation needed for front-foot rugby – particularly in the second half.
"The scrum was brilliant today again, the defensive lineout was really good - we had some issues with the attacking lineout which was a bit frustrating," Cron said.
"But we're working on that."
Perese scored two in the opening 10 minutes, the first a stunning 70-metre individual effort from nothing and the second a beautiful line off flanker Liam Wright.
With plenty of ball but no forward movement – the Aussies seemed to adopt a get-it-to-Perese-and-hope attitude for 20 minutes – the junior Wallabies faltered, turning to too-cute kicks and low percentage options.
That created opportunities for the Italians, which Giovanni D'Onofrio and Roberto Dal Zilio gleefully accepted.
Perese grabbed his third in the early minutes of the second half, from a Hamish Stewart speculator that could just as easily have ended in an Italian try, had the Azzurri handled the intercept.
That five-pointer triggered the floodgates though.
Harrison Goddard, Reece Hewat and Sione Tuipulotu all scored, blowing the scoreline out, before Dal Zilio scored his second.
The Australians face Scotland for fifth place at Avchala Stadium, from 10.30pm (AEST) on June 18.
England faces New Zealand in the final, the Australians will lament a missed chance having fallen just short against the former side in the group stage.