Australia 21 – 18 Wales
Australia bounced back from their semi-final loss to New Zealand to beat Wales 21-18 in a thrilling third place playoff at Eden Park.
It will not make up for missing the final, but the Wallabies did show some occasional glimpses of their ability to run the ball by adopting a more adventurous performance in a match that had little at stake other than ensuring the winner would be seeded third for the next World Cup in 2015.
Australia inside centre Berrick Barnes and number eight Ben McCalman both scored tries while Barnes also added a late drop goal and wing James O’Connor landed a conversion and two penalties.
Wing Shane Williams and fullback Leigh Halfpenny scored tries for Wales while flyhalf James Hook opened the team’s scoring with a first half penalty and his replacement Stephen Jones landed a second penalty and a conversion in the last play of the match.
Australia’s victory was soured by what appeared to be knee injuries to fullback Kurtley Beale, who collided with McCalman, and flyhalf Quade Cooper who shifted direction off his right foot and crumpled immediately to the ground in agony.
New Zealand play France in Sunday’s final, also at Eden Park, in a repeat of the 1987 decider.