Guts but no success for hosts at Millennium double-header
2:02pm Sunday 27th October 2013 in Sport
Wales' Ryhs Evans is surrounded by Italian players during the 2013 World Cup match at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday October 26, 2013. See PA story RUGBYL Wales. Photo credit should read: Lynne Cameron
THE DAY started with the familiar sight of a Sanzar nation triumphing in Cardiff and ended with Wales' defence being cut up almost as badly the Millennium Stadium turf, writes Chris Kirwan.
Neither of the Rugby League World Cup's joint hosts were able to get the tournament off to a flyer on Saturday despite showing plenty of grit and determination.
England predictably found favourites Australia too strong before Wales were outgunned by a strong Italy side in part two of a double-header that attracted 45,052.
The Wallabies were the last southern hemisphere big gun to taste defeat at the Millennium Stadium when beaten in the 15-man game in 2008.
But in a flat atmosphere, perhaps due to the 'you're all going through' nature of the group stages, the Kangaroos didn't come a cropper despite England racing into a 10-0 lead thanks to scores by Ryan Hall and Leroy Cudjoe.
Scores by Johnathan Thurston, Greg Bird, Billy Slater, Billy Morris and Darius Boyd secured a 28-20 victory for the Aussies, although England showed plenty of heart with second-half scores by George Burgess and Josh Charnley.
That was followed by Wales, on a rapidly deteriorating pitch, being outplayed by Italy.
Because of the 32-16 defeat the hosts must now win their remaining group games against the USA (in Wrexham) and Cook Islands (in Neath) if they are to set up a quarter-final against the Aussies.
"If we are at our best then we will challenge anybody," said coach Iestyn Harris. "Unfortunately we weren't at our best but what you don't do is throw everything out of the window and change the script.
"You have got to make sure you believe in the way you are playing, and I know the players and staff do.
"We've just got to make sure we improve in a lot of little areas to get the right result next week against USA.
"They are a team that has momentum and confidence, so we've got to make sure we are in the right frame of mind.
"We have got to win our next two games. We've still got a good chance of going through. You don't want to lose any game. If we could afford to lose one, then this was it."
Elliot Kear, Rhodri Lloyd and Ben Evans scored tries for Wales but they spent far too much of the game in defence against the powerful Italians.
Centres Aidan Guerra (2) and James Tedesco, wingers Joshua Mantellato and Chris Centrone and second-rower Mark Minichiello crossed to take the spoils, just reward for dominating proceedings after the break.
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