Injury-hit Wallabies impress Horwill
AUCKLAND, 21 Oct. - Australia captain James Horwill believes his side showed great determination to overcome the loss of playmakers Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale to defeat Wales 21-18 in the Bronze Final on Friday at Eden Park.
Fly half Cooper limped off on 21 minutes when pulling up suddenly in obvious agony as he drove towards the Welsh goalline.
Cooper's right knee injury added to the troubles already faced by the Aussie backline as Beale had been replaced after just 10 minutes.
But Horwill reckons the Wallabies showed great character to battle to victory. The second row said: "Losing Quade and Kurtley was not ideal, it made it tough, but we adapted really well and wanted to play a bit of rugby before we left."
Meanwhile, disappointed Wales skipper Gethin Jenkins was still content with the way his teammates ended RWC 2011, even with the loss to Australia.
"I'm proud of the way we finished the game but we just came up a bit short," the prop said. "We enjoyed the tournament but it was a shame we couldn't finish it off with a win."
Barnes opens scoring
Man of the match Berrick Barnes opened the scoring for the Wallabies with a try in the 11th minute that was added to by number 8 Ben McCalman late in the second half, while Wales crossed the line through Shane Williams and Leigh Halfpenny.
After turning around 7-3 down at the interval, Wales missed a straightforward penalty in the 44th minute when fly half James Hook screwed his kick wide to the left.
The Wallabies' Nathan Sharpe left the field in the 46th minute after winning his 100th Test cap. The second row had bravely battled on after suffering an injury to his right leg on just five minutes when landing awkwardly at a lineout.
Three minutes later left wing Williams showed his soccer skills to kick on twice following a pass from Hook, who had himself collected Mike Phillips' intelligent kick, to dive over in the left corner to put Wales 8-7 ahead.
Hook again missed a kick, this time his conversion attempt from wide out on the left, and was immediately replaced by Stephen Jones.
The Wales lead did not last long, however, as James O'Connor slotted over a 53rd-minute penalty for 10-8 to the Wallabies.
Fine drop goal
O'Connor added three more points five minutes later with another penalty for 13-8 to Australia, but then saw another attempt fall just short on 66 minutes.
But centre Barnes made it 16-8 with a fine drop goal just one minute later, only for Wales' Stephen Jones to cut that lead by three points with a 70th-minute penalty.
Australia came close to a second try when centre Adam Ashley-Cooper was halted just short of the Wales goalline on 73 minutes by George North's wonderful tackle.
However, that second Wallabies try arrived via McCalman just minutes later following a flowing move for 21-11. O'Connor failed to add the extras.
Halfpenny grabbed a consolation try for Wales deep into added time, which Stephen Jones converted for 21-18.
Tri Nations champions Australia had made the better start to the match, exerting severe pressure on the Wales defence from the kick-off.
Wonderful delayed pass
That pressure paid off after 11 minutes when Barnes crashed over following a wonderful delayed pass from Cooper that allowed the centre to nip past Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts.
Right wing O'Connor kicked the extras from almost directly in front of the posts for 7-0 to the Wallabies.
But Hook cut the Aussie lead by three points with a 20th-minute penalty.
- Oceania 1
- Playoff Winner
- South Africa
- Asia 1
- New Zealand
- Africa 1