Italy go up a gear to defeat Wales

The second fixture of the opening day of Rugby League World Cup 2013 saw co-hosts Wales take on Italy. It was a tightly contested affair until the final quarter, when Italy countered Wales desperate attempts to get back into the game with consecutive tries.


Italy started the game strong, buoyed perhaps by their narrow friendly victory over England and took the lead eight minutes in. Paul Vaughan made good ground up the middle before Italy tried their luck down the left with Anthony Minichiello, who provided the assist for Aidan Guerra. Joshua Mantellato converted the try from wide on the left.


Wales hit back on 14 minutes through Ben Evans. Whites attempted grubber on the last tackle was miscontrolled by Guerra and fell kindly for the Bradford prop forward. White converted the try simply from the right of the posts, Wales 6-6 Italy.


A finely poised game was tipped into Italys favour when Wales had an Elliot Kear try disallowed for a two-man strip, then Italy went the left of the pitch and Guerra took two Welsh players over the line with him in scoring his second on 20 minutes. A familiar combination as Mantellato stepped up to convert from wide left. Wales 6-12 Italy.


Italy nudged themselves two points further in the lead when Mantellato landed his third kick of the day, a penalty after an infringement in the tackle.


Three minutes before the break, Rhys Evans made a break and combined with Kear who cut inside his man and played Rhodri Lloyd in for a race to the right corner. It was a vital moment for Wales as Lloyd White added the extras and they were left trailing by just two at half time.


Just after the break Wales took the lead for the first time in the match after a bomb from Matt Seamark was collected by Elliot Kear ahead of Chris Centrone. The Bradford man juggled, then at the second attempt caught and grounded for the try which was converted by White.


Italy hit back soon after when Tedesco drew a man in then flicked a cute backhanded offload to Mantellato to stoll in at the corner. Just two minutes later Italy thought theyd landed the hammer blow after Mantellato broke again down the right but his pass to Anthony Minichiello strayed marginally forward, and this was picked up by referee Ashley Klein.


58 minutes in, desperately chasing a way back into the game, Rhys Williams chased his own chip down the line and appeared to be pulled back in his attempt to ground the ball in goal, but Klein waved play on.


Ten minutes later a Ryan Ghietti bomb to the corner saw Mantellato make a smooth catch and offload with a fine piece of individual skill leaving James Tedesco an easy task to finish the move.


Two minutes later and more good hands from Italy, culmulating in a step then scooped offload by Guerra leaving Centrone to finish off another fine try as Italy began to run away with it.


Mark Minichiello rounded off what ended up being a comfortable victory for Italy after he was put through by a short ball from Joel Riethmuller. Man of the match Mantellato converted with the final touch of the game.


Final score: Wales 16-32 Italy.