Wales captain Colin Charvis said his side had to show resolve to overcome a determined Italian forward assault in their quarter-final decider against the Azzurri.
"We just dug in and kept the scoreboard ticking over," said Charvis, after seeing his side grind out a hard-fought 27-15 win in the Group D encounter in Canberra.
"We knew they had loaded their bench with forwards and would come out to burn us early on.
"The guys had put the work in during training and it paid off as we just kept on tackling - it's great to secure our way through to the quarter-finals.
"There was a lot of negativity about Italy after we got beaten in the Six
Nations but people didn't really pay the Azzurri the respect they deserve, they are a
"It's nice to be able to get that monkey off our backs."
Charvis' back-row colleague Dafydd Jones scored the final, crucial try for Wales to seal the result.
"It was my first international score, but I'm just glad to get the win," said Jones.
"Italy never gave up. We knew what we would be up against and they didn't disappoint.
"We're just happy to go through to the quarters and are looking forward to the challenges ahead."
Wales coach Steve Hansen believes the victory, the team's fifth in a row, gives the players a platform to build on as they prepare for the immense challenge of New Zealand.
"At times I didn't think it was very composed and I was not very composed in the coaching box," he said.
"The good thing was they trusted themselves and that is something we have been building on and building on and it's starting to happen.
Jones was injured after getting trapped at the bottom of a ruck
"When they were put under pressure by the Italians they coped with it and they came back and applied their own pressure.
"By and large they took most of the opportunities. There has never been any doubt of their commitment to each other and to the
jersey and that (tackle statistic) just reinforces it."
The only sour note for Wales was a serious looking injury to prop Duncan Jones which could rule him out for the rest of the tournament.
"Duncan has had to go to get an X-ray on his lower leg, round his ankle in the fibula area," added Hansen.
"We hope it's not fractured but we are reasonably suspicious it might be."