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Wales coach Iestyn Harris offered no excuses after his men were outgunned 32-16 by Italy in their opening Rugby League World Cup game on home soil at the Millennium Stadium.

Wales led 16-14 early in the second period, but then conceded 18 unanswered points to a strong Italian side captained by former Australia fullback Anthony Minichiello and inspired by two-try centre Aidan Guerra.

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Wales, boasting a totally home-grown squad, must now beat the USA and Cook Islands in their remaining two group games to have any realistic chance of reaching the quarter-finals.

"I thought the best side won, I think it's fair to say that," Harris said of the Azzurri, boasting Australians of Italian heritage.

"They had a bit more class in a few little key areas, but we've got a great spirit in the Welsh side. My players gave everything they got, and I won't say anything against them.

"I thought we had an opportunity when we put our noses in front, but we dropped a couple of balls when we had a bit of momentum. When you have got momentum in games you have got to take advantage, and we didn't do that."

Elliot Kear, Rhodri Lloyd and Ben Evans scored tries for Wales, while Lloyd White kicked two goals, but it was not to be for Harris' team as Italy powered clear during the second half.

Man-of-the-match Josh Mantellato scored a hat-trick of tries for Italy, Aiden Guerra a brace, and Chris Centrone and Mark Minichiello bagged one apiece in the cross-pool fixture.

Italy coach Carlo Napolitano paid tribute to his NRL-experienced side.

"Playing in our opening game of the World Cup, it is very important to get off to a good start. I am very proud of my players," he said .

"All we are thinking about now is next week and concentrating on Scotland. Then we will work towards Tonga.

"You can't get ahead of yourself. You have to take it one step at a time.

"It wasn't a perfect game of rugby league, but what is? We have got things we know we can improve on throughout the week, and that is what we will do. We will fix what we need to fix."
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