Williams has an eventful last match in World Cup
Updated: October 21, 2011, 07:21
Send to a friend
AUCKLAND, New Zealand(AP) Shane Williams' last Rugby World Cup appearance proved an eventful one, as the veteran winger recovered from a bone-crunching early tackle to score one try and help set up another as his Welsh team lost 21-18 to Australia in Friday's bronze medal match.
The 34-year-old Williams is pondering whether to play one last match in front of his home fans in Cardiff against the Wallabies in December.
But this World Cup was his third and his last. He scored three tries to take his overall tally to 10 in 11 World Cup appearances.
Williams' 57th test try saw him at his opportunistic best, expertly trapping a stray, apparently forward pass with his left foot, kicking ahead with his next touch, and watchfully picked it up before darting into the left corner.
With seconds remaining in the match, his clever flicked pass on to Bradley Davies enabled the lock to set up fullback Leigh Halfpenny for the second try.
Williams was lucky to be on the field at all after being felled in a huge double hit early on.
As he went to kick the ball clear near his own corner, hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau dived at his legs and flanker David Pocock came in over the top, dropping Williams heavily into the turf.
Williams landed with a thud and lay on the ground for a few anxious moments before rejoining the action, and he was involved in Wales' first meaningful attack of the match when Halfpenny's just eluded his outstretched arms.
He took his chance brilliantly when it came 10 minutes into the second half, although it was courtesy of a suspiciously looking forward pass from flyhalf James Hook.
Hook's loose pass was too far ahead for Williams to handle, so he toed it upfield and regathered as the ball popped up near the line.
"The try was created out of nothing ... perhaps the pass might have been a bit forward,'' Wales coach Warren Gatland said. "He's been an outstanding performer, he always goes looking for the ball.''
With moments remaining, Williams was everywhere across the back line as he looked for his second try.
First, he darted toward the right corner on a scurrying run and was held up just before the line.
Then he was sprinting back over to the left side to join in a flowing move, where he collected a quick pass and showed great hands to pat it instinctively on to Davies, who then set up Halfpenny in the left corner.
"He's got amazing feet and has been so consistent over the years,'' Australia flanker David Pocock said. "He's the guy in their team that they always look to when they want to make a break and he's won some very close games for them.''
With Wales having missed six kicking chances in its 9-8 semifinal defeat to France, and squandering more kicks against the Wallabies, Williams even took it upon himself to try a dropped goal midway through the second half.
His snap went well wide - at least he tried.
"I'm not sure the dropped goal was the best decision,'' said Gatland, who still isn't sure if his veteran winger will be available for selection again.
"I keep saying to him this week that he hasn't got many to go ... I'm not sure (it's tonight) or maybe Australia on Dec. 3,'' he said.
Wales prop Paul James said Williams should stick around for a farewell game in Cardiff.
"That guy has given everything to Welsh rugby over his career, he's been a great servant on and off the field. I think he deserves a great send off,'' James said. "He's a world-class player and a great mate.''