Australia broke their 25 year losing streak at Eden Park on Friday evening by beating Wales 21-18 in the Bronze Final of the Rugby World Cup. Australia was the better team on the evening. Wales had difficulty handling the ball and Welsh kickers (Hook & Halfpenny) couldn’t find the sweet spot on the ball to collect a relatively easy 8 points from 2 penalties and a try conversion. Every match Wales lost in the tournament (South Africa 17-16, France 9-8, and Australia 21-18) was there to be won if penalty kicking had been accurate.
This match was a repeat of the Bronze Final at the first World Cup in 1987. Wales won that match 22-21. Sunday’s final will be a repeat of the 1987 Final in which New Zealand beat France 29-9.
Today was the first really warm day since we have been in New Zealand. There were lots of Welsh colors around downtown Auckland. My favorite sensory experiences from the day are:
Sound: A Maori song and dance group was performing on the street outside the FanZone. When they finished a song three guys in the crowd launched into a spontaneous haka. Each member of the dance group had a different facial expression. Some laughed and others seemed angry.
Smell: Grilling sausages along the streets of downtown Auckland as school and civic groups tried to make a little money off the World Cup visitors.
Sight: An oriental girl was painted all black and had a black rugby ball. She was busking for tips and would do a very strange robot rugby dance when someone dropped a coin in her tin can.
Taste: Rogan Josh curry in the media centre as media folks buzzed around George Gregan getting their picture taken with him.
Feel: A wave of melancholy rolled over me as the Australian national anthems started and I realized this would be my penultimate World Cup match. It is almost over. All that is left is for the All Blacks to do what everyone pretty much expected them to do from before the opening ceremony – win the Final and lift the Webb Ellis Trophy.