Preview: Italy v Australia

Italy have never before beaten Australia in 35 years of trying.

Italy have never before beaten Australia in 35 years of trying.

But on Saturday the two sides meet in Padova with Conor O’Shea’s side confident of putting an end to the run.

The Azzurri claimed a morale-boosting 29-17 win over Georgia last time out and The Six Nations side will enter the weekend with a spring in their step.

That impressive victory means O’Shea makes just one change to his starting XV as Jayden Hayward comes in at full-back in place of his Benetton Luca Sperandio.

That means Leonardo Ghiraldini continues at captain on his 98th cap in the absence of Sergio Parisse and Mattia Bellini, the final try scorer in the win over Georgia, starts on the wing for a second game in succession as the Azzurri look to secure back-to-back November Test victories.

It has been a tough 12 months for the Wallabies meanwhile, they have just three Test wins from their last 13. And Michael Cheika – with England up in their final autumn clash the following weekend at Twickenham – has rung the changes from the side that lost to Wales last time out.

Youngsters like Jordan Petaia and Jake Gordon come into the back line with Matt Toomua given the nod at No.10.

In the pack, David Pocock and Michael Hooper are retained but in the front row the likes of Folau Fainga’a and Taniel Tupou get the nod.

There is also a recall for 34-year-old Adam Ashley-Cooper on the right wing for his 117th international cap.

Italy v Australia, Padova, Stadio Euganeo, Saturday November 17, 14:00

What they said   Conor O’Shea: “Australia is a tough team to tackle. We have worked well in the last few days and for the first time since the start of the test match we had a normal working week without long journeys.

“We know that playing our best rugby can put them in trouble. We have achieved an important victory against Georgia, but our focus from last Sunday is only on the next opponent.

“We’ve got some guys who can do some serious damage. We hope we get ourselves into a knife-edge game.

“We’re not a team that is going out to try and maul and scrum and the typical things that are trotted out about Italian teams. We’re here to play rugby and we’re going to play our brand of rugby. We’re going to be ambitious and we’ll see where it takes us.

“We’re not here to be a plucky loser. We’re competitive people and we never, ever, go into a match not preparing to win. We’re going to play every minute if it’s the last minute.”   Michael Cheika: “Focus is definitely on playing well in order to win for sure.

“And sometimes opportunity is what can drive players to go to that next level of performance and it is an opportunity for some players.

“But the core of the team is still the strong experienced outfit that we’ve had, I suppose learning the lessons of the year … and looking to keep the good things that have come out of last week and add on the other things we’ve done intermittently throughout the year into one 80-minute match.”   Key battle Jake Polledri v Michael Hooper   While Australia have slipped this year, the same cannot be said for openside flanker Michael Hooper.

The Wallaby skipper leads by example and will need to rally his troops for their trip to Padova.

Last week he was fought hard in the openside battle by Wales’ Justin Tipuric and this weekend his challenge doesn’t get any easier with Jake Polledri his direct opponent.

Since breaking into the Italy side at the end of this year’s Six Nations, Polledri has gone from strength to strength and will relish his chance against one of the world’s best.   Key stat

– Italy tested the Wallabies last June in Brisbane, leading in the final quarter before the Wallabies held their composure to score two late tries in a 40-27 victory.

– Italy are ranked 13th in the world and never beaten Australia in 35 years of matches

– The 17 meetings between these two sides date back to 1983 and have been won by the Wallabies by an average margin of 21 points

– Queensland Reds rookie Jordan Petaia, 18, will become the third youngest Wallaby after being named on the left wing

– In his 117th international, Adam Ashley-Cooper will overtake Nathan Sharpe as the third most capped Wallaby of all time.

– Waratahs halfback Jake Gordon has been named to make his Test debut, with Will Genia on the bench as insurance.    Italy: 15. Jayden Hayward, 14. Tommaso Benvenuti, 13. Michele Campagnaro, 12. Tommaso Castello, 11. Mattia Bellini, 10. Tommaso Allan, 9. Tito Tebaldi, 8. Braam Steyn, 7. Jake Polledri, 6. Sebastian Negri, 5. Dean Budd, 4. Alessandro Zanni, 3. Simone Ferrari, 2. Leonardo Ghiraldini (c), 1. Andrea Lovotti Replacements: 16. Luca Bigi, 17 Cherif Traore, 18. Tiziano Pasquali, 19. Marco Fuser, 20. Johan Meyer, 21. Guglielmo Palazzani, 22. Carlo Canna, 23. Luca Morisi   Australia: 15. Israel Folau, 14. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13. Samu Kerevi, 12. Bernard Foley, 11. Jordan Petaia, 10. Matt Toomua, 9. Jake Gordon, 8. David Pocock, 7. Michael Hooper (captain), 6. Jack Dempsey, 5. Adam Coleman, 4. Izack Rodda, 3. Scott Sio, 2. Folau Fainga’a, 1. Taniel Tupou.  Replacements: 16. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17. Jermaine Ainsley, 18. Sekope Kepu, 19. Rory Arnold, 20. Pete Samu, 21. Will Genia, 22. Kurtley Beale, 23. Dane Haylett-Petty.