You think playing for third place doesn't rate? Try telling that to Wales and Australia fans who descended on Eden Park in droves last night. More than 50,000 spectators turned out as the two teams battled for the bronze medal after disappointing losses at the semifinals.

It was the Wallabies who snatched consolation for their semifinal defeat to the All Blacks with a 21-18 victory.

Wallaby fan Andrew Pollack, who's been travelling around World Cup venues with a group of supporters on the Orion cruise ship, said he was set for a celebration.

"It's nice to finish like this, especially after the last one," Mr Pollock said. "I've had a good few weeks and this just tops it off."


It was a bad end to a disappointing tournament for public enemy number one Quade Cooper, who limped off the field with a knee injury.

Kiwis may have loved to hate him, but few in the crowd wanted to see his World Cup end this way. The Australia-New Zealand rivalry intensified during this tournament, but last night there were many Kiwis dressed in gold.

Rebecca Robb, from Wellington, said it was sad to see Cooper hurt.

"The crowd had been booing him, but he's well respected. When he came off we all stood up and clapped for him... I hope he's alright."

Among disappointed Welsh fans was Megan Protheroe, who had put on face paint, draped a flag, walked the fan trail and cheered for her team's last match at the tournament.

"I'm a real fan," Ms Protheroe said, "especially of Mike Phillips."

Wales needed a lot of cheering up after being "robbed" against France when they lost 9-8, having to play most of the match with a man down.

Ms Protheroe was a follower of all of Wales' rugby matches back home in Barry Island, watching Six Nations tests and all appearances.


She'd been travelling around New Zealand with her English boyfriend, Alex Smedley, catching games wherever they could.

Defeat was especially hard to swallow given Wales' luck against France and the narrow loss to South Africa in their opening match.

Cindy Faingaa - with her daughter Hulita, nephew Vita and husband Saia - showed her full support among a large group of Wallabies fans and cheered especially for her twins in the team, Anthony and Saia.

Everyone had been disappointed after losing last week, Mrs Faingaa said, but they were determined to go out on a high. "Pity it's not for gold, but it's important. Any medal is better than nothing."

The family had been back and forth between Australia and New Zealand to support the Wallabies, and they didn't want the campaign to end with a loss. Australia lost to the All Blacks last week after an impressive win over the Springboks in the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, at the waterfront almost 10,000 people descended on Queens Wharf. Captain Cook Wharf and Wynyard Quarter were quiet.

Auckland's other fan zones were quiet, though more than 1000 people turned up in Henderson, where Kiwi Australian Idol winner Stan Walker was the headline act.

Auckland police inspector Gary Allcock said there had been no problem with crowds.

- additional reporting: Vaimoana Tapaleao, Andrew Koubaridis