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A seesawing contest has seen Italy come home strongly to defeat Wales 32-16 in the second match of the 2013 World Cup opening night Double Header at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Early suggestions were that Italy would dominate, particularly after their upset of England in last week's warm up match - and this looked likely after ten minutes when Aiden Guerra strong-armed his way over the line to open the scoring. Surprisingly the Welsh took very little time to strike back, with Ben Evans opening the home side's account by pouncing on a loose grubber at the 16th minute.
Play progressed with Italy continuing to dominate, enjoying the bulk of field position. This was converted into further points after 21 minutes with Aiden Guerra picking up his second try, before a 28th minute penalty goal for Josh Mantellato gave the Azzurri a comfortable eight-point lead. Complacency then set in just before the break, with Rhodri Lloyd's try for the hosts closing the gap before the break, Italy taking a 14-12 advantage to the break.
The second half began the same way it ended, with Wales surging forward. Elliot Kear leapt to claim a cross-field kick on just the second set of the half to steal his side the lead for the first time. It wasn't to last though, with the Italians striking back just five minutes later - Josh Mantellato putting Italy in front 18-16 after eight minutes of the second half.
From that point the scoring dried up for both sides, the next points not scored til the 70th minute with James Tedesco pushing Italy further ahead by scoring out wide. Italy continued to press against a tiring Welsh defence, and their persistence paid off with another try just seven minutes from time to Chris Centrone. Mark Minichiello then put the icing on the cake with a late try in the final minute, striking from close range.
Wales will lick their wounds and prepare for a clash with the USA Tomahawks at Wrexham next Sunday afternoon (Monday 1:00am AEDT), while Italy's next showdown will be two hours later against Scotland in Workington.
Wales 16 Italy 32
Venue: Millenium Stadium
Halftime Score: Italy 14-12
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Josh Mantellato
2 points - Aidan Guerra
1 point - Elliot Kear
Tries: Ben Evans, Rhodri Lloyd, Elliot Kear
Conversions: Lloyd White (2/3)