FULLTIME: Australia 21 Wales 18
The game was close and ended on a bright note but all in all this failed to raise the heart rate in a big way. Both sides appeared to struggle to lift themselves at times and critics of the bronze medal match will no doubt have their say again. The IRB will point to the large crowd at Eden Park and subsequent money earned as justification.
Either way, Robbie Deans and his team will be pleased to end on a winning note, even though their injury toll was remarkably high.
Fellow-Kiwi Warren Gatland will be disappointed his injury ravaged team couldn't get the ideal end but they should still receive a warm welcome when they arrive back home.
83: CONVERSION Jones. Australia 21 Wales 18.
82: TRY Halfpenny. Australia 21 Wales 16.
Gallant Welsh team end what has been an exciting campaign with a try - which is appropriate. Absolutely huge pressure which began from well inside their own half. This is the sort of stuff which has us wondering how good Wales could be over the next few years with this young team. Unfortunately it's too late tonight.
81: Well into injury time and Wales have rolled inside the Wallabies 22 through Stephen Jones and Powell. Can they finish with a try? The crowd are roaring them on. Shane Williams tries to skirt around them but is lowered by Barnes. We're up to nearly 30 phases...
80: The Welsh been forced back into their own half and finally show some spark as the impressive North gallops into a half-gap. Seventeen phases gone and counting...
79: Australia return the kickoff with a long kick and Wales launch one of the last attacks of the game. But, as has been the case for much of the second spell, it's all happening in the middle of the park and they're getting very little change from the Aussie defence line.
78: O'Conner misses a relatively easy conversion but it won't matter.
77: TRY McCALMAN. Australia 21 Wales 11.
That'll be bronze to Australia. Some great work from some Wallabies reserves - Samo, Burgess and Saia Fainga'a before the impressive McCalman is put into space and he has an unimpeded run to the line.
76: Samo wins the lineout and O'Connor hammers it up. Burgess slides through and offloads to Slipper, Wallabies looking good here...
75: Wales under big pressure at the scrum and Jones scrambles it out, just 15m from their line.
74: Australia have butchered a try! Brillaint counter from a brilliant player as O'Connor is put into space down the right by Barnes. He looks infield and finds Anthony Fainga'a, who finds Ashley-Cooper with an inside ball. But the veteran centrel spills just 2m out! Super last-ditch tackle by North, who got a crucial hand on the ball. Best attacking moment of the match.
73: Wales win a turnover and launch into a series of rucks. This is better as quick hands by Roberts puts North into a half-gap but he's quickly lowered. Some more urgency from the Welsh but yet another handling error strikes.
72: Horwill is off - another Wallabies player who appears injured - replaced by Samo. Wales return the kickoff with a deep kick and Ashley-Cooper finds touch on halfway.
71: PENALTY JONES. Australia 16 Wales 11.
70: Wallabies win the kickoff and try to run it out but lose it. Ioane penalised 40m out, straight in front so Stephen Jones steps up to try to get his side back within range...
69: Burgess on for Genia in a Wallabies side who look every inch like ending their losing streak at Eden Park that dates back to 1986. They're two scores clear and, frankly, Wales don't appear to have the weaponry to unlock a resolute green and gold defence.
68: DROP GOAL Barnes. Australia 16 Wales 8. Super pot from nearly 40m out from Barnes, who is unquestionably the most influential player on the field tonight - perhaps he should have been picked to start last week...
67: Wales win it and find touch just short of halfway.
66: O'Connor's shot is straight but just short. Wales kick deep but Barnes drives them back into their corner. He's having a good night with the booth. Welsh defensive throw, 10m out.
65: Wallabies kick deep and Wales return it with ball in hand but Halfpenny is penalised for holding on. Nice work by prop Slipper, who's having a good night. Here's O'Connor with a shot from 46m out, straight in front.
64: Loosie Powell on for Lydiate and prop Bevington for James in the Welsh pack - Gatland wants to inject some life.
62: This is looking like last week for Wales. Against France they dominated much of the late play, helped by their much-touted fitness, but struggled for line breaks. The ruck count is up to 20 now and they still haven't got over the Aussie 22. Eventually a frustrated Shane Williams tries a drop goal. It's short and wide - bragging rights to the Wallabies defence, and they will drop out. Not until Horwill is treated for injury.
61: Wales win another lineout and Phillips sends his forwards through a series of ruck just outside the 22m line. Roberts of course runs straight and hard but there's little respite. That's 12 phases now.
60: North claims it and runs back into a gold wall but Barnes blows that whistle once again. Welsh penalty and they'll throw to an attacking lineout 35m out. Clean breaks are few and far between in this disappointing fixture - full credit to both defences I suppose but fatigue could be becoming a factor...
59: Long Welsh kickoff and another kicking duel ensues.Wales eventually keep it in hand just inside their half. This looks better as they go blind but the passing just isn't good enough to put players into holes. Jamie Roberts is handled by reserve Aussie lock Simmons and they have a turnover. O'Connor stabs deep to spark some more aerial ping pong.
57: PENALTY O'Connor. Australia 13 Wales 8.
56: Another good Aussie scrum but they struggle to produce anything coherent from it. Wales are eventually penalised, straight in front of their posts, 35m out. Here comes O'Connor, looking to make it three from four for the night...
55: Wallabies win the deep kick and Barnes hammers it downfield... where it's dropped cold by Stephen Jones. He's had a forgettable tournament. Wallabies scrum, 35m out.
54: PENALTY O'Connor. Australia 10 Wales 8. Australia back in front but the rugby still ain't great. The large Eden Park crowd will be hoping things can pick up.
53: Wales scrum on their own 40m line. They drive but are penalised for leaving their feet at the tackle. O'Connor steps up from 42m out, 20m in from the right touch.
51: Wales win the kickoff and kick deep. O'Connor counters and skins Williams - maybe that's why he's not rated - and offloads infield to Higginbotham but it's called forward by Barnes. Wallabies unhappy with that call.
Another injury for the Wallabies. Polota Nau hobbles off to end an injury-pocked 2011. Saia Fainga'a on at hooker.
50: Hook's conversion misses from wide out on the left.
49: TRY Shane Williams. Wales 8 Australia 7.
It came from that Jones turnover inside the Welsh half. Phillips delivered a super grubber through the defensive line which was gathered by Hook. He flung a pass wide - which appeared to drive forward - and Williams extended his foot to control it superbly. He kicked ahead and regathered to score. This wee fellow is vastly under rated in New Zealand but unfairly so. He is highly skilled, fast and with a sharp nose for the tryline - 58 test tries now is proof of that.
48: Wales win another lineout, they've functioned well there tonight. A skewed bomb and the Wallabies tidy it up on halfway. Barnes slices through a half gap and tries an offload - he's been the most inventive looking back on display tonight. Australia still have it and they make a handful of hit-ups 40m out from the Welsh line. It's pretty slow going though and Ryan Jones effects yet another turnover.
47: Wallabies steal the lineout and kick deep. The Wallabies clear to touch on halfway. A holdup now as Pocock is treated for a head cut.
46: Time to pause here and acknowledge Nathan Sharpe as he hobbles off to end his 100th test. One of the great Wallabies has put in a soldiering display after getting injured early.
45: Sharpe wins the short dropout and the Wallabies fling it quickly to danger man O'Connor on the far right. They can't crack the Welsh line but the European side are penalised at the ruck - it's Faletau, who's not having one of his best games in a bright tournament. Wallabies throw in near halfway.
44: Very bad miss James Hook. Goalkicking has been a bugbear at this tournament and Hook has been a repeat offender.
43: Faletau knocks down the throw and Roberts throws himself at the line. Jeepers it wouldn't be fun tackling him. The Welsh forwards rumble it up a few times and Barnes pings Slipper at the ruck. Hook steps up just about right in front, 25m out.
41: We're back under way with a Wales kickoff. A long opening stanza, with Australia keeping ball in hand inside their half for a spell but not looking totally effective. A couple more kicks and eventually Wales have an attacking throw 35m out.
HALFTIME: Australia 7 Wales 3
An even affair but it has to be said it's been mildly disappointing as a spectacle. The very nature of a third-fourth playoff means the blood and thunder of a big-time test is going to be missing and that seems to be the case here.
Things started brightly and the Wallabies in particular looked good. The Barnes try was well executed and well deserved.
Since then, the loss to injury of backline creators Cooper (knee) and Beale (hamstring) has blunted the edge of the men in gold.
Wales have looked a fuzzy imitation of the stampeding side of recent weeks. Their lineout is functioning well and they've won some nice ruck turnover ball but the scrum is struggling and their error count is high.
They'll have a slight wind at their back in the second half which could improve the territory stats that are well against them.
For Wales, halfback Mike Phillips has been a dominant kicking with his huge amount of kicking from the base while lock Bradley Davies and No 8 Ryan Jones are the pick of the red pack.
Centurion Sharpe has been a standout for the Wallabies along with No 8 McCalman, second-five Barnes and wing O'Connor but Pocock has been noticeably quiet.
40: Wales win another lineout and there's yet another Phillips box kick. Wales win back a loose ball and swing it left but it ends with a limp grubber from Davies goes into touch.
40: Charteris wins it and Phillips kicks deep. Ioane takes on North on the outside on counter attack but there's no joy there and he's bundled into touch.
39: Barnes' drop out goes deep and North returns it strongly but Lydiate looses it. Genia pops in a super kick. Welsh throw just 10m from their own line. Can they force a score in the last minute?
38: Kick just drifts right and Wallabies retain their four-point lead with 2min til the break.
37: Ryan Jones makes a storming run off the scrum base, giving his team momentum as they surge over halfway. Anthony Fainga'a penalised 42m out, nearly straight in front and long range specialist Halfpenny steps up.
36: The Aussies move it quickly left but substitute Rob Horne, making a rare appearance, takes on too much with an attempted flick offload and it goes forward.
35: The impressive Charteris wins this and theres an exchange of kicks before Hook looses a high ball forward. Wallabies scrum 40m out.
34: Wallabies scrum on halfway and Barnes stabs a nice kick deep. Wales respond deep before Ashley-Cooper unleashes a super return. Wales throw on their own 22.
34: North is heading sideline with a bloody head cut. Stephen Jones on for him. Higginbotham returns for Samo. The medical staff are earning their dosh tonight.
33: More successful box kick which the Wallabies claim. But Samo, who's on as a blood bin replacement for Higginbotham, has the ball ripped off him by Hook. Embarrassing. Now Roberts spills it at the tackle, both teams are struggling to hold on to possession - you sense there's not the usual clinical attitude of a high stakes test.
32: Davies wins his third lineout and Sharpe charges the Phillips box kick but the ball goes straight into touch. Sharpe is having a blinder as Wales throw from abut the same spot.
30: It seems to be a guessing game at scrum time. Barnes gives Wales a free kick and the men in red tap and go. Nice work from Phillips and Ryan Jones as they surge to halfway. But it's a turnover and the Wallabies kick deep. O'Connor nearly wins the race and a ruck forms just metres out. Ryan Jones does brilliantly again and Wales win it back - it's hot potato stuff. They try to run it out and Higginbotham is penalised.
Wales clear to 30m from their own line, giving both teams a breather in a pretty fast-paced affair.
29: Penalty hits the post! Wales gather and try to run it out but lose it. Barnes says both teams knocked on so it's a Wallabies scrum feed, on the Welsh 22.
27: Knock on and Wales win a scrum but they're penalised again! James Slipper putting pressure on tighthead Paul James. Wales are missing the injured Adam Jones big time, just as they did for most of last weekend's loss to France.
O'Connor steps up from 40m, 15m in from the right touch.
26: More collapsed scrums and this time Wales are pinged. Wallabies throw just inside the Welsh half.
25: Davies wins it and Wales drive ineffectually. It's fair to say they're looking more ponderous than in some of their recent matches and there's a wee knock on from Phillips. Aussie defensive scrum 25m out.
23: Aussie lineout ball and there's nice bursts from Pocock and Higginbotham. But Ryan Jones pinches it beautifully. Wales fail to find touch and O'Connor replies with an unsuccessful chip and chase. Wallabies penalised at the ruck and Wales clear to 25m from the green and gold line.
22: Welsh scrum under a little pressure and Jonathan Davies under pressure as he clears to touch just outside the 22.
21: Nice attack from the Wallabies, with Cooper pulling the strings with a variety of passes, he looks a lot more relaxed tonight.
Oh my, the kiss of death from the live blogger. Cooper has gone done heavily - he suddenly stopped after trying a sidestep - and this doesn't look good.
The Wallabies have already lost Beale and another of their attacking gems, Cooper, is being helped off the park by medicos. A sad end to what has been a high profile tournament to say the least. The best of his talents haven't been on show and he'll be shattered because he was looking good tonight. Early suspicions that it's an ACL knee joint, which means he won't be doing much over summer.
20: Australia kick deep and Faletau with a poor knock-on as Wales run it back. Australia with a scrum on the Welsh 22.
19: PENALTY Hook. Australia 7 Wales 3.
18: We've just had three scrum resets and finally Barnes has had enough. Wales penalty for goodness knows what. Wales will have a shot - a different approach to the Wallabies minutes earlier.
17: Slack stuff from the Aussies. Clean lineout win but Pocock knocks it on cold. Welsh scrum right in front of the sticks.
16: Davies wins the lineout and Hook bombs Cooper, who takes it superbly. Wales force a turnover and North charges. They move the ball quickly left but there's a mixup and the ball is passed into touch by halfpenny. Defensive Wallabies throw but at last some life from the Welsh.
15: Higginbotham wins the lineout but nice work by Gethin Jenkins as Australia are pinged for holding on. Welsh throw-in near halfway.
14: Sharpe wins the kick off and after some messy work they burst up to halfway thanks to a lovely grubber and regather by Barnes. He's showing his class in this game. Wales penalised at another ruck and Australia, who are dominating the opening, have another attacking throw.
12: CONVERSION O'Connor. Australia 7 Wales 0.
11: TRY Barnes. Australia 5 Wales 0.
Slick set piece try. Solid scrum and Cooper threw a lovely, delayed flat pass to Barnes, who stormed into a gap. Nice dummy run from O'Connor fooled the defence.
10: Rob Horne is on for Beale after Wales cleared to their 40m line. Horwill wins and Cooper hooks a clever kick back for O'Connor to chase. Shane Williams clears but is hammered in the process by a charging Polota Nau. Williams' small frame isn't built to handle that sort of thing! He's back in the game as Australia put in to a 5m attacking scrum.
8: Wallabies win it and launch a sizzling raid. Dangermen O'Connor, then Ioane are both just stopped short of the line. Wales penalised and the Wallabies tap - that would have been an easy penalty so they've come to play - but Ashley-Cooper knocks on. Welsh defensive scrum. Beale down getting treatment. Looks like his done his hamstring again and the fullback is limping off. A sad end to the tournament for one of world rugby's best attacking players.
6: Charteris wins it and the Welsh pack drives 10m. The Welsh forwards muscle it up but Shane Williams joins the tight exchange and is penalised for holding on. Nice kick from Cooper and the Wallabies have an attacking throw 10m out.
5: Sharpe hobbles back but looks tender. Wales have a throw now on halfway.
4: Sharpe wins a second lineout but he's gone down with an apparent knee injury - he lost contact with his lifters and seemed to land awkwardly. Not looking good. Meantime Wales are penalised and Australia will throw to a lineout 40m out from Wales' line.
2: Wales win the throw on the second go. Phillips dummies but is hammered by Sharpe. Hook clears deep and the Wallabies attack from deep. Loud boos again tonight for Quade Cooper it would seem. It's starting to get a little tiresome.
Wallabies try a chip but Wales regather. Some loose passing and they're back on their own 22 but still in possession. Davies kicks brilliantly, finding touch 25m from the Australian line.
First minute: Nathan Sharpe, playing his 100th test, wins the short kickoff for Australia and the fling the ball left and then back to the right. Barnes grubbers and Halfpenny hammers deep back downfield.
Wallabies counter again and Barnes grubbers again, this time into touch, 25m out from the Welsh line.
Weather is fine, anthems are over at Eden Park and we're ready for the battle for bronze.
Both teams should be over the disappointment of missing the big show and hopefully they can turn on a display of running rugby. Wayne Barnes blows his whistle....
Join us for our live blog commentary of the Rugby World Cup playoff for third place between Wales and Australia.
In a repeat of the equivalent match at the inaugural tournament in 1987, both sides arrive at Eden Park bitterly disappointed not to have reached the final in two days' time.
Wales lost their semifinal 9-8 to France after being reduced to 14 men when captain Sam Warburton was sent off while Australia were outplayed 20-6 by the All Blacks.
Kickoff is at 8.30pm:
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams, James Hook, Mike Phillips, Ryan Jones, Toby Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Luke Charteris, Bradley Davies, Paul James, Huw Bennett, Gethin Jenkins (capt). Reserves: Lloyd Burns, Ryan Bevington, Alun Wyn Jones, Andy Powell, Lloyd Williams, Stephen Jones, Scott Williams
Australia: Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Ben McCalman, David Pocock, Scott Higginbotham, Nathan Sharpe, James Horwill (capt), Salesi Ma'afu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper. Reserves: Saia Fainga'a, Ben Alexander, Rob Simmons, Radike Samo, Luke Burgess, Anthony Fainga'a, Rob Horne
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
- © Fairfax NZ News
Which two NZ teams look the most likely to make the Super Rugby playoffs?