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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 11 May 2021
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We went minute-by-minute for the curtain-raiser to Sunday’s final; Australia and Wales meet in this year’s bronze medal decider, also known as third/fourth place play-off.

As always, we’d like to hear your thoughts on the action. E-mail niall@thescore.ie, tweet us @thescore_ie, or post on our Facebook wall.

If you’re not into that whole social media thing, you can leave a comment below.

FT: Australia 21-18 Wales

Morning all. No time for any pre-match ramblings, but then again, there was no real need for pre-match ramblings.

The New Zealand media are labelling this one “the dance of the disappointed” — it’s the losers’ final (sorry “bronze final”) between Australia and Wales.

We’ve had the anthems, so we’re just about ready to go.

Here are the teams.

Australia: Beale; O’Connor, Ashley-Cooper, Barnes, Ioane; Cooper, Genia; Slipper, Polota-Nau, Ma’afu; Horwill, Sharpe; Higginbotham, Pocock, McCalman.

Wales: Halfpenny; North, Davies, Roberts, Williams; Hook, Phillips; Jenkins, Bennett, James; Davies, Charteris; Lydiate, Faletau, Jones.

Wayne Barnes is our man in the middle. He gets us underway. If anybody cares, I’d like an exhibition of quick running rugby with plenty of tries. You?

In the RTÉ studio beforehand, Tom and the lads seemed to agree that Wales are likely to be more up for this. Despite all the jokes which I have made and will continue to make this morning, third place at the World Cup is not to be sniffed at. I’m just jealous that we’re not there.

Oooh, I like this. Wales concede a penalty but, rather than kick the points as you might expect, Quade Cooper kicks it to the corner. James O’Connor drives to within a metre or two of the line but the ball is knocked on by Quade as he tries to recycle it quickly.

Of all the players who might like to have a good game today, the Wallabies fly-half is pretty high up on the list. He hasn’t been at his best over the past few weeks, but this kind of open (read: meaningless) game will suit a flair player like him.

TRY! (Barnes, 10′) Looks like Warren Gatland has told Wales not to bother defending this morning. Australia control a scrum five yards out, Cooper fires a flat pass to Barnes and he saunters through a massive gap where Jamie Roberts probably should have been standing. He probably won’t score many easier tries.

James O’Connor tacks on the conversion. Australia 7-0 Wales

Australia have been well on top in these opening 15 minutes. They’re spending 80-90% of the time on the front foot. A word of praise for Berrick Barnes who started brilliantly in midfield — you can see why large sections of the Australian public were calling for his inclusion earlier in the tournament.

Considering how early it is, you lot over on Facebook seem to be in a pretty jovial mood. Then again, it is Friday I suppose.

From a five-metre scrum, Wales look to spring one of their rehearsed backline moves but the scrum keeps collapsing and Australia are penalised for not binding properly.

James Hook wants to take the points — WHAT?! Booooooo.

PENALTY! (Hook, 19′) The kick is right in front of the posts, so he knocks it over without too much trouble. I’m not really too happy with that decision though. What’s wrong with going for the corner?

The Welsh national anthem (also known as “Have a Nice Day” by the Stereophonics) rings out around the ground. Weird.

Quade Cooper has jarred his knee and that’s the end of his World Cup. What a massive disappointment for Coops and for anybody like me who was hoping that he might put on a show this morning.

He gets a respectful round of applause from the New Zealand public, despite the fact that they really don’t like him. He once had the temerity to look at King Richie McCaw the wrong way, I think.

Amidst the early flurry of points, I neglected to mention that Kurtley Beale has also gone off injured with what looks like a recurrence of his hamstring problem.

This is how the Australian backs are lining out now, I think:

Ashley-Cooper; O’Connor, Faingaa, Horne, Ioane; Barnes, Genia.

MISSED PENALTY! (O’Connor, 28′) The winger’s kick comes back off the post. There’s not a huge amount more to say about that one really.

If anybody was worried that these sides wouldn’t be up for this match, I can assure you that’s not the case. We’ve already had two or three blood subs in this first half, the most of recent of which has seen Stephen Jones (to be referred to as “the guy who bottled the drop goal in the semi-final” in future) come on for a brief hello.

There’s not a huge amount of note happening on field at the moment. Wales are seeing plenty of ball, tackling and foraging with something approximating their usual intensity, but most of the rugby is being played in their half of the pitch.

MISSED PENALTY! (Halfpenny, 38′) The Welsh full-back has a chance to cut the deficit to a single point, but his strike from distance starts slightly to the right and never turns back in.

HALF-TIME: Australia 7-3 Wales

Well, that started with promise but it has all kind of petered out a bit since.

I’m off to grab a cup of coffee, but if you send in your thoughts on the first half, I’ll fire them up.

To get the ball rolling, here’s Mark Breen’s take on the action so far.

A quick stats update while the kettle boils?

Possession: Australia 48-52 Wales

Territory: Australia 66-34 Wales

We’re off and running for the second half. A little bit of drama would be nice.

MISSED PENALTY! (Hook, 44′) A chance for Mr J Hook to cut the deficit to one point and, without being overly harsh, it looks unmissable — slightly to the right of the posts, just outside the Australian 22.

I’m not sure how he missed it, but he did. I’m going to go away and think about that one for a minute.

TRY! (Williams, 48′) Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. We’ve got a game on our hands now and it’s Shane Williams with an excellent solo effort. James Hook’s pass goes astray but rather than sulk about it, Williams manages to hack it in behind the Australian line with his boot and chases it down to touch down in the corner. The pass from Hook was on the forward side of borderline, I think, but they’ve gotten away with that one.

Hook can’t quite get the direction on his conversion, but Wales lead. Australia 7-8 Wales

Time to give this an airing, I think. Before you enjoy it, you may need to hit refresh for the clip to embed properly.

PENALTY! (O’Connor, 54′) With a chance to put Australia’s noses back in front, O’Connor takes an absolute eternity over a penalty. But trivial matters such as time don’t really matter when you’re as accurate as he is. He nails it and Australia lead. Australia 10-8 Wales

PENALTY! (O’Connor, 57′) Wales are toying with the self-destruct button here now and they’re in danger of handing this game — and those sought-after bronze medals — to Australia. They concede another cheap penalty for not rolling away in the tackle and O’Connor is as deadly as you would expect. Australia 13-8 Wales

Just under 18 minutes to play in Eden Park and you get the sense that Wales will need a try if they’re to turn this game on its head. After a pretty woeful performance with the kicking tee, James Hook has been replaced by “the guy who bottled the drop goal in the semi-final”.

And, true to form, as Wales grind the ball through many phases inside the Australia 22, “the guy who bottled the drop goal in the semi-final” shows no desire to sit back in the pocket and offer Wales the chance to get three points on the board. Shane Williams gets pretty frustrated — does he have to do everything? — and tries one himself, but it’s off target.

MISSED PENALTY! (O’Connor, 66′) Trojan work by David Pocock at the breakdown, showing off his rugby brain in all its glory. He’s on the shoulder of one of his team-mate as they make a tackle, which frees Pocock up to contest the ball at the breakdown and force Wales to hold on on the ground.

O’Connor has a chance to probably put Australia out of sight, but the penalty is back near the half-way line and drops just short. Wales live, for now.

DROP GOAL! (Barnes, 68′) Brilliant by Berrick Barnes, who has deservedly been the subject of effusive praise from Ryle Nugent and Donal Lenihan this morning. His dropper isn’t the prettiest, but it gets the job done and stretches Australia’s lead to eight. Australia 16-8 Wales

PENALTY! (Jones, 70′) “The guy who bottled the drop goal in the semi-final” doesn’t bottle his chance to keep Australia in the game with a penalty. The margin’s back to five with 10 minutes on the clock. Australia 16-11 Wales

If Andy Gray was a rugby commentator, he would be on his feet encouraging George North to “tik a boo” right about now.

The Wallabies break at lightning pace and Adam Ashley-Cooper is effectively on the line and in the process of grounding the ball when North gets his hand around and rips the ball away, forcing the knock-on. Magical.

TRY! (McCalman, 76′) And finally, I can say “that is that” with certainty. Slipper draws the tackles, Faingaa juggles the ball and McCalman goes over unopposed. A hint of a forward pass, but Wayne Barnes is happy enough. O’Connor misses the conversion, but it won’t matter at this stage. Australia 21-11 Wales

TRY! (Halfpenny, 80+3′) Wow wow wow — if you were looking for one single passage of play to some up the Welsh performance at this World Cup, you’ve got it right there. With the clock in red and most of their players stretched out with exhaustion, Wales retain possession through a whopping 32 phases of play, capped by Leigh Halfpenny who had all the space he needed out wide to score. Jones tacks on the conversion with the final kick of the game. Australia 21-18 Wales

FULL TIME: Australia 21-18 Wales

Australia take third place at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

That’s it from Eden Park. Australia were deserved winners, but the Welsh performance reminded us once again why they have been the most talked-about team at this year’s tournament — gutsy and determined right up until the 80th minute, and then some.

And, whisper it, for a “meaningless game”, it actually wasn’t too bad.

We’ll be back bright and early on Sunday morning for the big one — it’s New Zealand v France in the Rugby World Cup final. Get the rashers and sausages in, and we’ll see you then.

About the author:

Niall Kelly

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