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Wallabies must improve: Alexander
By Russell Jackson
16:06 AEST Sun Nov 25 2012

Wallabies prop Ben Alexander admits Wales will fancy their chances of beating Australia in Cardiff on Saturday after the tourists' weak second half in a "lucky" win over Italy.

Alexander was not shying away from the fact the Wallabies were poor as they were held scoreless for the entire second spell when world No.11 Italy threatened to overhaul them, just clinging on for a 22-19 Test victory in Florence on Saturday (Sunday AEDT).

Australia led 22-6 at halftime before letting the Azzurri back in the game with an error-laden effort that ensured coach Robbie Deans and his men are back under the pump going into their tour finale against Wales.

The Wallabies were on the back foot straight after the break when giant lock Sitaleki Timani dropped a pass which led to Italian No.7 Robert Barbieri scoring.

Italy threw everything at the Wallabies and were unlucky not to tie the game in the final minute when impressive five-eighth Luciano Orquera just missed a penalty from around 40 metres out.

Australian winger Nick Cummins scored Australia's only try midway through the first half.

Worryingly, the Wallabies have scored just two tries in three Tests on the European tour, Cummins bagging both.

"They (Wales) would have seen how we played in that second half and noticed plenty of things for them to exploit," said Alexander.

"We know they're coming and we have to be ready for them.

"We're going there happy that we won here but we were pretty lucky in the end."

Wales suffered their sixth consecutive Test loss when beaten 33-10 by world champions New Zealand in Cardiff shortly after the Wallabies downed Wales, but their performance was in stark contrast to the Australians' as they roared back in last 30 minutes with two tries.

"It's always tough in Cardiff but they've got their backs against the wall and that makes them even more dangerous," said Alexander.

Deans admitted he was frustrated by the second half showing and the fact the Italians were able to spoil so much of Australia's ball from the set piece, particularly in lineouts where they hassled Australia consistently.

"They were consciously as disruptive as possible," Deans said.

"It's not easy when you've got a side that's destructive like that and it was a source of frustration because we weren't able build momentum because we didn't have the ball in the second half."

Australia's scrum was put under plenty of pressure and was shaded by experienced props Martin Castrogiovanni and Andrea Lo Cicero who have 187 Test caps between them.

"They were probably a bit to clever for us. They weren't engaging and made it look like we were going early and then in the second half they sped up their engagement and caught us on a couple," Alexander said.

Meanwhile, Wales captain Sam Warburton says there were some good signs late from his side against the All Blacks and that will give them confidence going into the Wallabies' clash.

Second half tries to Welsh backs Scott Williams and Alex Cuthbert were the only scoring acts of the last half hour, a period dominated by the hosts.

It was a stark difference to an error-ridden first half and two losses this month against Argentina and Samoa.

"We played a much better tempo in the second half. From a playing point of view, when we were attacking and kept the ball, we put New Zealand under a lot of stress," Warburton said.

"The players will take a lot of confidence from that into next week's Australia match."


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