Wallabies and Wales battle for bronze again
October 17, 2011
Wales' dejected players trudge off the pitch after last November's defeat by the Wallabies © Getty Images
Australia and Wales will lock horns for the fifth time in Rugby World Cup history when they collide in this year's third-place play-off in Auckland on Friday evening.
Coincidentally, the two sides also contested the 'Bronze Final' when the tournament was last staged in New Zealand, in 1987. Although on that occasion, their roles were reversed, with the Wallabies going into the game on the back of a defeat by France and Wales seeing their hopes of an appearance in the final dashed by New Zealand.
Regardless, the Welsh will be hoping that history repeats itself as it was they who claimed third 24 years ago, tries from wing Adrian Hadley, lock Dick Moriarty and Gareth Roberts helping them to dramatic 22-21 victory over a Wallabies side which had been reduced to 14 men following the dismissal of flanker David Codey.
Their paths crossed again four years later, this time in the pool stages, as the Wallabies routed the Welsh 38-3 in Cardiff, thus ending the home side's hopes of progressing to the last eight.
They would meet again in 1999 and again Wales had home advantage. However, the Wallabies prevailed once more, with a brace of tries from scrum-half George Gregan helping them to a comfortable 24-9 success. The Aussies would, of course, go on to lift the Webb Ellis Cup that year, defeating South Africa in the semis before seeing off France in the tournament decider.
Australia and Wales' most recent meeting came in France 2007, although the game was again staged in the Welsh capital. It mattered not, though, with the Wallabies maintaining their dominance in this particular fixture with a deserved 32-20 triumph.
Consequently, the Welsh will be hoping the fact that Friday's game will be on neutral soil for the first time since 1987 might actually work in their favour!
Australia v Wales
All-time record: Played 30: Wales won 10, Australia won 19, drawn 1
Biggest winning margins: Aus: 57 (63-6 at Brisbane, 1991); Wal: 25 (28-3 at Cardiff, 1975)
Highest score: Aus: 63 (63-6 at Brisbane, 1991); Wal: 29 (29-29 at Cardiff, 2006)
Most tries: Aus: 12 (63-6 at Brisbane, 1991); Wal: 4 (29-45 at Cardiff, 1975)
Most points (individual): Aus: Matt Burke 84; Wal: Stephen Jones 54
Most tries (individual): Aus: 5 Chris Latham; Wal: 4 Shane Williams and Gerald Davies
Previous World Cup meetings: 4 (Aus 21-22 Wal, Rotorua, 1987; Aus 38-3 Wal, Cardiff, 1991; Aus 24-9 Wal, Cardiff, 1999; Aus 32-20 Wal, Cardiff, 2007)
Click Here for Wales' full Test record courtesy of Statsguru
Click here for Australia's Test record courtesy of Statsguru
Click here for a record of all Australia v Wales matches courtesy of Statsguru
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton
Wales were just 13 minutes from a famous victory, but the lessons to be learned in defeat are almost exactly the same as those from previous near-misses, writes Huw Richards
Ahead of England's clash with Samoa, Scrum Sevens takes a wander down memory lane and celebrates seven examples of Pacific Islands magic
England must find a way to improve their game by tiny margins and they will get there, writes Phil Vickery