Rugby League World Cup: Iestyn Harris offers no excuses after Wales lose to Italy
Last Updated: 26/10/13 9:15pm
Wales coach Iestyn Harris offered no excuses after his team were outgunned 32-16 by Italy in their opening 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 full-back Anthony Minichiello and inspired by two-try centre Aidan Guerra.
Wales 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.
"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.
"I didn't think we kicked well enough or got the right territory. Ultimately, when you don't get field position, you have to do a lot of defending at the wrong end of the field."
Harris added: "If we are at our best then we will challenge anybody. Unfortunately tonight, 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.
"We were short in a lot of areas. The game is won and lost in the ruck and with your kicking game, and we lost the key areas and key battles that we needed to win."
Italy coach Carlo Napolitano paid tribute to his side after they ran in six tries.
"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."