AUCKLAND (AFP) - Australia finished the World Cup on a high with a bruising 21-18 third place playoff win over Wales at Eden Park here Friday. The Wallabies battled on after losing star backs Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale with first-half injuries to edge out the Welsh with magnificent defence after both teams scored two tries each. It was Australia's first win at Eden Park since 1986, but not against their Bledisloe Cup rivals New Zealand, who take on France at their fortress in Sunday's final. Both teams managed a final effort after shattering semi-final defeats last weekend, the Wallabies going down 20-6 to the All Blacks, while the Welsh lost 9-8 to France after playing with 14 men for the last hour. This victory meant two-time champions Australia won their first bronze at the World Cup after losing 22-21 to Wales in the playoff for third place at the inaugural 1987 tournament in New Zealand. "We came to the tournament to win obviously but we weren't good enough by some distance against New Zealand," said Australia coach Robbie Deans. "It's not easy, the blokes were pretty disappointed, it (the third place playoff) is not the match of their preference. But, having said that, it's still an opportunity to represent your country and you saw tonight from both sides the pride they have in that." Wales, also coached by a New Zealander in Warren Gatland, were without suspended captain Sam Warburton following his sending off against France for a dangerous 'tip tackle' on Vincent Clerc. But, for the second match in a row, Wales also missed injured fly-half Rhys Priestland with wayward goalkicks, as they had against France, costing them dear. "I think you've got to be pretty proud of what we've done in this tournament but take nothing away from Australia, they deserved to win," said Gatland. "At this level you've got to kick your goals. We didn't do that and we've come up three points short." Australia's Berrick Barnes, who shifted into the fly-half slot following Cooper's injury in the 22nd minute, delivered a masterly performance and was named man-of-the-match. "We did it tough, it was last man standing there with all the injuries we had," said Barnes, who added the team were delighted to have won for lock Nathan Sharpe, playing his 100th Test. "We played pretty good territory, which we didn't do against the All Blacks." Wales captain Gethin Jenkins, leading the team in Warburton's absence, said: "We knew how good Australia are. They competed well at the ruck area and perhaps we tried to play too much rugby. That cost us with the turnovers and the tries they scored." Prop forward Jenkins added: "To come fourth is not as good as third, but it is a lot better than we have managed in previous World Cups." Just nine minutes into the match, Australia lost Beale after he re-aggravated a hamstring injury that saw him miss the semi-final. But Cooper set up the opening try in the 12th minute, his pass splitting Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies and allowing Barnes to stroll over for what became a 7-0 lead when James O'Connor converted. Prop James Slipper was penalised in the scrum for James Hook to kick a penalty for Wales. Hook then badly missed an easy penalty attempt five minutes after the restart. Sharpe's 100th Test match finished six minutes into the second half after he had bravely soldiered on from knee trouble suffered early on. Wales hit the front with a fortuitous Shane Williams try, the wing kicking ahead of what appeared to be a Hook forward pass in the 49th minute off what appeared to be a forward pass from Hook but English referee Wayne Barnes waved play on.