venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
26th October 2013
Full Match Report
Qualifiers Italy claimed a second senior scalp in eight days after coming from behind to beat Wales 32-16 in the second part of the World Cup opening double-header in front of a 45,052 crowd at the Millennium Stadium. The Welsh produced a gutsy effort and led 16-14 early in the second half but in the end were undone by the NRL experience of the Azzurri, who went into the game on a high following their stunning win over England in a World Cup warm-up match.
Centre Aidan Guerra, fresh from an NRL Grand-Final triumph with Sydney Roosters, scored two tries and created one for his winger, Chris Centrone, while right winger Joshua Mantellato, whose drop-goal secured that 15-14 win over England, came up with a try and three goals in a man-of-the-match performance. Wales will still hope to qualify for the quarter-finals - and a likely duel with England in Wrexham - if they beat the United States and Cook Islands in their Group D matches and coach Iestyn Harris has seven days to pick his side up for next challenge.
Guerra quickly made his mark, twisting over from close range for the first try on seven minutes but Wales drew level when stand-off Lloyd White's kick took a wicked bounce to present Bridgend-born prop Ben Evans with his first try for his country. The Welsh had a try disallowed when second rower Tyson Frizzell was adjudged to have stolen the ball in a two-man tackle and they fell behind again midway through the first half when Guerra, who has played must of his rugby for the Roosters in the second row, demonstrated his strength to take two men over the line with him for his second try. Mantellato kicked his second conversion and added a penalty to stretch his side's lead to 14-6 before a break from winger Rhys Williams set up a try for Rhodri Lloyd to keep the game on a knife edge.
Trailing 14-12 at the break, Wales went in front for the first time early in the second half when right winger Elliot Kear leapt superbly at the corner to collect the ball from White's high kick and touch down for his 10th try in national colours. But the lead lasted only two minutes as Mantellato produced a strong finish to claim a third Italian try and they almost scored again when full-back and captain Anthony Minichiello went clear only to be brought back for a forward pass.
Wales were forced to defend desperately as the visitors dominated the final quarter and they finally cracked when the outstanding Mantellato collected scrum-half Ryan Ghietti's crossfield kick to get his centre James Tedesco over the line. The excellent Guerra then carved out a score for Centrone and second rower Mark Minichiello rounded off the scoring with a last-minute try which gave his side a flattering margin of victory.
R. Evans, Kear, Lloyd, Webster, Williams, White, Seamark, Kopczak, Budworth, Flower, B. Evans, Frizzel, Patrick. Subs:Dudson, Lupton, James, Emmitt
A. Minichiello, Mantellato, Tedesco, Guerra, Centrone, Falcone, Ghietti, Laffranchi, Parata, Vaughan, M. Minichiello, Ciraldo, Riethmuller. Subs:Tramonte, Nasso, Santi, Gardel