Italy are the unlikely side cutting a swathe before and during the Rugby League World Cup. Already the conquerors of England in a pre-tournament friendly, they added the Welsh scalp to their collection by outlasting them in a thoroughly entertaining encounter last night.
At the root of Wales' problems was their inability to control the Sydney Roosters' centre, Aidan Guerra, a member of their recent Grand Final-winning side.
Guerra's size and strength made him a handful throughout, something underlined by his two first-half tries and the other one that he set up later, but this was no one-man show. Guerra's tries were uncannily similar, both the product of his ability to force his way over the line despite a two or three-man tackle.
In between, the Bradford forward, Ben Evans, kept the Welsh in contention by touching down from Lloyd White's kick. But a third goal from Josh Mantellato gave the Italians the edge at half-time.
Wales hit the front when Elliot Kear won the contest for Matt Seamark's kick, but that was where the fun ended for the Welsh contingent. Another of Italy's NRL players, James Tedesco, produced a peach of a pass to put Mantellato in for a try to go with his goals.
Although Wales then defended willingly after that, they were always on the back foot and struggled to keep out the threat offered by Joel Riethmuller.
Tedesco crossed for a try of his own on 68 minutes, although there looked to be more than a suggestion of a knock-on in the build up to that one. Guerra's brilliant one-handed back-flicked pass to Chris Centrone made it certain that it would be the Italians celebrating.
Mark Minichiello finally added the last-minute try to slightly exaggerate the Italian superiority.
One small victory for the Home Nations was a crowd of 45,052, the highest for the opening day of a World Cup.
Wales R Evans; Kear, Lloyd, Webster, Williams; White, Seamark; Kopczak, Budworth, Flower, B Evans, Frizell, Patrick. Substitutes used Dudson, Lupton, James, Emmitt.
Italy A Minichiello; Mantellato, Tedesco, Guerra, Centrone; Falcone, Ghietti; Laffranchi, Parata, Vaughan, M Minichiello, Ciraldo, Riethmuller. Substitutes used Nasso, Gardel, Tramonte, Santi.
Referee A Klein (Australia)Reuse content