By John Davidson, (RLP RLWC Correspondent) Date: 27/10/13
The Sydney Roosters combination of Aiden Guerra and Anthony Minichiello has terrorised Wales, helping Italy to a 32-16 victory.
Guerra, playing in the unfamiliar position of centre, was sensational for the Azzurri, scoring two tries and laying on another for winger Chris Centrone. Both of Guerra’s tries were set up Minichiello, his Roosters teammate, who was a steady hand at the back.
Italy’s win was built on the back of a strong forward pack and a devastating work ethic, which over-enthused Wales all over the park. The Azzurri seemed much fitter than their rivals and had too much class at certain moments to ensure they got the vital opening World Cup win.
Italy rattled the Welsh early with some solid hits and good hits. The experience of captain Minichiello was vital as in the 10th minute he ran to the short side and found Guerra who had the strength to find a way over and score.
Wales hit back with a lucky try, as Guerra went from hero to villain, when he miskicked a Welsh kick into the path of Evans, who crossed and levelled the scores at 6-6.
Guerra picked up his second try in the 20th minute and Italy seemed to be cruising. A simple but effective game plan with a lot of running from dummy half and quick play the balls was too much for Wales to handle.
But just as halftime approached the Welsh pulled a great try out of the bag. Throwing it around on their fourth tackle, the hosts got out it out wide to their winger who stepped inside, beat his defender, drew Minichiello and passed to Rhodri Lloyd who scored. This cut the score back to 14-12.
The halftime break seemed to revitalise Wales, as they started the half brilliantly with a quick try. Italy knocked on, giving the boys in red great field possession. They put a bomb up and Elliot Kear flew high to pluck the ball out of the air and score.
Wales were now ahead 16-14, but their lead would last just four minutes. A wonderful piece of play from James Tedesco put Josh Mantellato over in the corner. Tedesco drew two players and flicked the unmarked Mantellato the ball to score, restoring order and putting Italy back ahead 18-16.
Two minutes later the Azzurri looked to have scored again, when Tedesco broke free and found Minichiello open on the inside, but it was called back for a forward pass.
Just the two points remained the difference for another 20 minutes, as the game descended into an arm wrestle, before Italy found the tryline again. Tedesco was the beneficiary after another bomb and the Welsh resistance then really fell apart.
The Azzurri were in again two minutes later, Guerra finding Centrone with a sensational pass to make it 26-16. The final try came in the last minute, Mark Minichiello crashing over from a short distance, with Italy taking it 32-16.
Wales were brave but ultimately beaten by a more experienced and more talented Italian side. It is now a big ask for the Welsh to make it through to the next stage, with crunch games against the USA and Cook Islands.
For Italy, confidence will be high with the scalp of Wales added to their shock defeat of England last weekend. The Azzurri are already making a big statement in their first ever World Cup, with matches with Scotland and Tonga to come.
Wales 16: Tries: Kear, Evans, Lloyd, Goals: White (2).
Italy 32: Tries: Minichiello, Guerra (2), Mantellato, Tedesco, Centrone, Goals: Mantellato (4).