While Australia and Wales arrived at the Rugby World Cup with different goals but have ended up with the same intention: To go home with something tangible to show.
"The bronze medal won't be as sweet as a winner's medal but it's something we can take away from this and be proud of our efforts," said Wallabies captain James Horwill, a statement echoed by the Welsh.
The teams play for bronze on Friday at Eden Park, where both lost their semifinals last weekend in contrasting style.
Australia came to New Zealand for an unprecedented third title and was devastated to come off a distant second best to the All Blacks, losing 20-6 in the semifinals.
The Welsh thought they'd would do well to make the quarterfinals, but their confidence grew with each passing victory and they came to believe their destiny was a first-ever appearance in the final.
But after losing 9-8 to France, Wales conveniently blamed the referee. Yet even after captain Sam Warburton was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Vincent Clerc, and left his team a man short for more than an hour, Wales still could have pulled off an amazing victory if any of its three kickers had landed one of the six shots they missed.
Even former Wales coach Graham Henry, who has guided New Zealand into the final, was disappointed his old team missed out, saying it would have been a great final matchup.
Following days of griping about the referee, Wales can embolden its case that it deserved to be in the final by achieving a rare win over the Wallabies outside Europe.
The last time Wales beat Australia in the southern hemisphere was in the corresponding bronze match in the inaugural 1987 World Cup. That was also the last time Wales beat any of the Tri-Nations powerhouses below the Equator.
Wallabies lock Nathan Sharpe was determined, however, that the Welsh were not going to ruin his 100th test. Sharpe will be the fifth Australian and 21st player overall to notch a century of test caps. Thanks to a Welsh grandfather, Sharpe said he was asked to play for Wales way back when Henry was coach but declined.
This match was the first of five tests between the sides within the next eight months, with Australia returning to Cardiff on Dec. 3 for a reported $1.3 million payoff, then Wales undertaking a three-test tour next June. Sharpe said the Wallabies were out to put the Welsh in their place: "If you let these teams get one over you, they get too much confidence," he added.
Wales coach Warren Gatland was just as keen for his players to celebrate their homecoming match in December with bronze medals around their necks.
"We have come a long way and put together a string of performances that the nation can be proud of so far in New Zealand and we need to ensure that the history books reflect what we know we are capable of - and it is only by beating the Wallabies on Friday night that we feel this will be achieved," Gatland said.
Support for Wales has been phenomenal, not just in New Zealand but back home. More than 61,500 fans packed Millennium Stadium in Cardiff for a free live screening of the semifinal at dawn last Saturday. That was nearly 3,000 more than attended the actual game at Eden Park. Millennium Stadium will also show Friday's game on its giant TV screens live and for free.
"We want to go out and perform for the fans who turned up in Cardiff last week, for ourselves and for our families," flyhalf James Hook said.
"It's been a good tournament for us - we would have taken this at the start - but we lost a semifinal and we want to go home with something."
Wales, without the suspended Warburton, made only three changes for the match, recalling prop Paul James, lock Bradley Davies and No. 8 Ryan Jones. Hook was kept at flyhalf in an unchanged backline, given a second chance like his opposite number Quade Cooper to regain confidence after sub-par displays in the semifinals.
Australia made eight changes, bolstering the backline with Kurtley Beale and Berrick Barnes, and hoping a new front row will offer energy before an expected crowd of more than 50,000 two days before the final.
"We've got a chance to right some wrongs," Horwill said. "We want to finish the tournament on our terms."
Australia: Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Ben McCalman, David Pocock, Scott Higginbotham, Nathan Sharpe, James Horwill (captain), Salesi Ma'afu, Tatafu Polota Nau, James Slipper.
Reserves: Saia Fainga'a, Ben Alexander, Rob Simmons, Radike Samo, Luke Burgess, Anthony Fainga'a, Rob Horne.
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams, James Hook, Mike Phillips; Ryan Jones, Toby Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Luke Charteris, Bradley Davies, Paul James, Huw Bennett, Gethin Jenkins (captain).
Reserves: Lloyd Burns, Ryan Bevington, Alun Wyn Jones, Andy Powell, Lloyd Williams, Stephen Jones, Scott Williams.