Australia take Rugby World Cup bronze after bruising clash with Wales

October 21st, 2011 - 7:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Auckland, Oct 21 (IANS) Australia’s Wallabies took the bronze medal at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand Friday after a tough and scrappy 21-18 victory over fellow semifinal losers Wales.

The two teams both took to the Eden Park pitch with the intention of taking home the consolation third place after Australia were beaten by the All Blacks Sunday and Wales suffered a one-point defeat to France the day before.

The Wallabies showed flashes of their daring, running play and inside centre Berrick Barnes opened the scoring in the 11th minute after taking a running pass from flyhalf Quade Cooper, Xinhua reported.

With the score at 7-0, Wales flyhalf James Hook managed to slot through a penalty incurred by the Australian scrum.

Australia suffered the first of two major blows in the first half with Kurtley Beale coming off with a knee injury after colliding with number 8 Ben McCalman.

The second came when Cooper also suffered match-ending knee injury after an awkward change of direction and, after the match, hobbled up to the medal podium on crutches with his right knee in a brace.

The teams went into the break with the score at 7-3.

Wales snatched a brief lead when halfback Mike Phillips grabbed the ball in a ruck and ran sideways before booting through to Hook, who picked it and passed to wing Shane Williams, who put it over the line for 8-7.

The Wallabies changed tactics to take points where they could get them, with wing James O’Connor slotting through two penalties and Barnes snatching a drop goal to regain the lead with a score of 16-8.

With seven minutes to go, the Australians resumed running the ball with O’Connor offloading to Adam Ashley-Cooper, who was brought down within a meter of the tryline by Welsh wing George North.

Hook’s replacement Stephen Jones put through a second penalty for Wales and the Wallabies renewed their attack with McCalman eventually finding open ground to break over the tryline, putting the score at 21-11.

Fullback Leigh Halfpenny pulled off a remarkable try just before the final whistle after a five-minute onslaught that went through 34 phases of possession.

It was rounded off by a conversion by Jones leaving the final score at 21-18.

All eyes now are on the grand final here Sunday when France, hosts of 2007 tournament, take on the home team.

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