Wallabies claim bronze after forgettable match

Wales second five-eighth Jamie Roberts is tackled by Australia opposite number Berrick Barnes (left) and outside back Adam Ashley-Cooper in the bronze medal match at Eden Park last night. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Wales second five-eighth Jamie Roberts is tackled by Australia opposite number Berrick Barnes (left) and outside back Adam Ashley-Cooper in the bronze medal match at Eden Park last night. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Bring on the real final. In the battle for third place at the World Cup, Australia ran out a 21-18 winner over Wales at Eden Park last night in a game which will disappear into the night quickly.

Frankly, of the 47 games played at this tournament so far, this would not even rank in the top 40 as a spectacle.

There were few line breaks, both teams kicked with little accuracy and intelligence, and the attacking vision from players was terrible at times.

People questioned the need for this game and their argument got plenty of backing last night.

Wales seemed content to bash away all night and those lauding the rebirth of Welsh rugby might have been a tad premature.

Australia badly missed fullback Kurtley Beale, who injured his hamstring again after 10 minutes. Chief playmaker Quade Cooper then left the field shortly afterwards with a wonky knee.

That left Australia with plenty of bashers in its backline but few creators and it told.

Both backlines cancelled each other out most of the night and the forward packs bashed each other to a standstill.

Just to add to matters, referee Wayne Barnes was at his baffling best. He missed obvious offsides and had a forgettable night at the breakdown.

The Australians should have clinched the match with seven minutes left but outside back Adam Ashley-Cooper had the ball knocked out of his hands as he dived for the line. It did not matter as No 8 Ben McCalman went over two minutes later to seal the victory.

Welsh fullback Leigh Halfpenny scored a consolation try right at the end.

Best for the Wallabies was Berrick Barnes, who showed he should have played for the side all tournament, while lock Nathan Sharpe was also useful in his 100th test. Halfback Will Genia stamped his class on the game.

Shane Williams was lively on the wing for the Welsh and No 8 Ryan Jones got through plenty of work.

The Welsh had taken the lead after 10 minutes of the second half. They forced a turnover in a ruck and halfback Mike Phillips put a grubber kick though.

It was picked up by midfielder Jamie Roberts and he threw a pass to the unmarked Williams. He showed the soccer skills of countryman Ryan Giggs and toed the ball on 20m to score with not an Australian in sight.

James O'Connor though quickly replied with two penalties and Australia never looked back.

The Wallabies scored the only try of the first half after just 10 minutes. They won a 5m scrum after the Welsh could not control a clever Cooper kick and knocked the ball on.

The ball went to Cooper straight from the scrum and he put Barnes into a gap. The second five-eighth scored under the posts without a hand being laid on him. O'Connor knocked over the easy conversion.

But Wales eventually swung on to attack and, after a series of scrums on the Wallabies line, Barnes penalised the defending team and James Hook converted the easy penalty.


The scores:
WALES v AUSTRALIA

Australia 21
Berrick Barnes, Ben McCalman tries, James O'Connor 2 pen, con, Barnes d-goal

Wales 18
Shane Williams, Leigh Halfpenny tries, Stephen Jones pen, con, James Hook penHalftime: 7-3 Australia.

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