The Wallabies of 2011 got some sort of revenge for the 1987 team as they beat an equally young Welsh side for the bronze medal in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Australia survived 2 crucial injuries early in the match to hold on and beat unlucky Wales.
Fly-half Quade Cooper and full-back Kurtley Beale were injured inside 25 minutes in the match at Eden Park. Cooper could be out for as long as 6 months as he is suspected to injure his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Beale reinjured his hamstring that prevented him from playing in their semifinal match against New Zealand last week. The Wallabies had enough firepower to beat Wales that also missed some key players. Absent for Wales were missing suspended skipper Sam Warburton, plus injured pair Rhys Priestland and Adam Jones.
Australian centre Berrick Barnes started the scoring with a try and a conversion by wing James O’Connor barely 11 minutes into the game. Wales promptly answered via a James Hook penalty. In the 44th minute, Hook had a chance to narrow the gap but missed an easy penalty. In the 49th minute, Shane Williams put the Welsh on top, 8-7, after making an amazing try using kicks twice. Hook, however, missed the conversion attempt. Coach Warren Gatland decided to substitute Hook with Stephen Jones.
The Wallabies took back the lead in the 53rd minute via James O’Connor penalty. O’Connor added 3 more points for Australia in the 58th minute to extend the lead to 5, 13-8. Barnes made a drop goal in the 67th minute to make it an 8 point lead. Welsh Stephen Jones got 3 points back three minutes later. Australia number 8 Ben McCalman scored the second try of the game for the Wallabies to put the game out of reach at 21-11. O’Connor failed to convert the extra points. Halfpenny scored for Wales in added time followed by a Stephen Jones conversion for the final points of the game. Australia won 21-18.
The third placers have been decided and there is only one match left. It is for the hardware, France vs. hosts New Zealand. It is a 1987 finals rematch at the same venue. The match is expected to be close but more than half of the rugby world is rooting for the All-Blacks.
- Wales 18-21 Australia (guardian.co.uk)
- Rugby World Cup 2011: Australia beat Wales 21-18 to clinch third place (mirror.co.uk)
- Wallabies beat Wales 21-18 for Rugby World Cup bronze (thestar.com)
- VIDEO: Australia take Wales and third in Bronze Final, Rugby World Cup 2011 (3news.co.nz)
- Wales bow out of World Cup with pride intact after defeat to Australia (guardian.co.uk)