Friday, October 21, 2011
Last Wallaby Standing....
The 21-18 victory by the Wallabies gives them a Bronze medal from this Rugby World Cup. Wales, once again will rue the number of missed kicks at post. It cost them against France, and it cost them again against Robbie Deans' men in gold.
It really was a battered Australian side that survived. They had to get through this game without Kurtley Beale, who re-injured his hamstring, and the Wallaby-Kiwis-Love-to Hate, Quade Cooper blew out his knee in the first half. Berrick Barnes was the man of the match for the Wallabies, he scored a drop goal, a try, and after Cooper had to leave the game, he was a calming influence in the Wallaby back line. James O'Connor had a very solid game at the wing, and Wales would love to have somebody who could be as dependable of a kicker as O'Connor has become for the Wallabies.
You knew that the Welsh were going to be up against it in this match. Wales just does not have a ton of depth, and it was clear they missed their captain, Warburton in this match. As a fan you had to admire Shane Williams being able to score a try in what will almost certainly be his last Rugby World Cup match. At the end of the game, it was evident that there was no way that Wales could win, but yet at the end of the game, the Welsh pushed hard for the try, they put over 30 phases of ball together before Leigh Halfpenny was able salvage some Welsh pride in what has been a very, very surprising World Cup for Warren Gatland's men in red. Wales may have lost this match, but they gained a lot of fans in this tournament. I also think that they have to be really looking forward to the Six Nations in February.
Australia had to take some serious stick in this tournament for losing to Ireland in the preliminary round and the antipathy of Kiwi fans against Quade Cooper. The Wallabies also have a bright future, I think. A Bronze medal from the Wallabies-including a win over the defending champion Springboks-is a bit of a salve for any wounds left over from the semi-final loss to the All Blacks.
This match was a bit of an appetizer for Sunday's final between France and New Zealand. I know my appetite is very keen after this.