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Aussie U20s on the rack after historic loss to Italy

Australia’s Under 20 team has fallen to a first-ever loss to Italy leaving their World Championship hopes hanging by a thread.

The Australians were beaten 17-12 in dreadful conditions. The losing bonus point kept Australia second on the table and they will face Ireland, who top the group after beating Georgia 22-16, with the semis on the line.

“I don’t think (the game) slipped away, we just missed our opportunities in the A-zone. We created plenty of opportunities, we’ve just got to be better at executing them,” captain Toby Macpherson told RugbyPass TV.

“You can say it rained or it was windy but at the end of the day, we’ve got to get better and that’s what we’re planning on doing this week leading into Ireland.

“They (Ireland) are a really good team, a class outfit, but they’ve got points that we’ll attack and no doubt they’ve got points on us.

“The boys have got to get up, swallow the tough pill today, back it up this week at training, get better and get better quick.”

Scrumhalf Dan Nelson in action against Italy (Photo by World Rugby)

Running into the wind in the first half, the opening stanza was largely spent with Australia grimly defending in their half of the field.

They dodged a bullet in the 19th minute as Italy inside centre Patrick de Villiers fumbled the ball over the tryline.

It took 27 minutes and sustained waves of attack from Italy before the Australian defence was finally breached, with flanker Luca Bellucci powering over from close range.

That would be only points of the first half, with Italy taking a 7-0 lead to the sheds, and Australia hoping for more success with the wind at their backs.

However less than a minute into the second half, as was the theme of Australia’s first game in Cape Town, the TMO intervened and flanker Dane Sawers received a yellow card for an illegal clean out.

Italy extended their lead to 14-0 shortly after the decision, with hooker Valerio Siciliano burying over the line.

Australia finally got their first points in the 46th minute, despite being a man down, as a successful rolling maul saw hooker Ottavio Tuipulotu touch down.

The conversion from Harry McLaughlin-Phillips made the score 14-7.

In the 60th minute a bit of trickery from Australia fullback Shane Wilcox put winger Ronan Leahy over in the corner but the attempted conversion sailed wide to leave Italy with a two-point lead.

It was the closest Australia would come as Italy skillfully retained possession and spent the majority of the final minutes attacking Australia’s line.

Australia will face Ireland in their final pool game at 10pm AEST on Tuesday.

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