20 October 2019 16:32
Wales booked their place in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals after battling back to beat France 20-19 in Oita. He hadn't missed a tackle in 27 attempts before this game, but none of those hits would have been worth much more than the one that dislodged the ball for Aaron Wainwright to race clear for his try here. Pumped up enough to punch a wall on the way out of the dressing room, but once the game started he missed Vakatawa as France worked Ollivon over for a brilliant try, and then Navidi was outjumped at a restart by Damian Penaud. Warren Gatland's dream of a Rugby World Cup-winning finale with Wales lives on after his team made it through to the Japan semi-finals with a gritty and thrilling comeback win over 14-man France. This tournament is Gatland's last in charge and it looked like it would end in disaster when Les Bleus roared into an early lead, but a red card for Sebastien Vahaamahina ultimately proved crucial.
Wales vs France player ratings - Rugby World Cup quarter-final Show all 31 left Created with Sketch. Getty Images 2/31 <b>Wales:</b> Liam Williams - 6 France did an excellent job of kicking away from him to limit his involvement, with few chances to show what he can do. Getty Images 3/31 George North - 6 Excellent tackle stopped Fickou early on, but was intercepted by Huget when Wales had a three-man overlap as they were desperately searching for the try. AFP via Getty Images 4/31 Owen Watkin - 5 Had big shoes to fill in Jonathan Davies's last-minute absence, but didn't show his best and showed what Wales lose without Davies in the side. Getty Images 5/31 Hadleigh Parkes - 5 Made no impact whatsoever with ball in hand and the fact that he was thumped backwards by Huget sums up the Welsh performance.
AFP via Getty Images 15/31 Justin Tipuric - 6 Played a key role in the match-winning try by catching the rip and taking it to the line. Getty Images 17/31 <b>France:</b> Maxime Medard - 7 Kicked smartly until his rash decision to attempt a drop-goal from halfway saw him grubber the ball instead. Part of a French back line that dazzled throughout the first half as he caused Wales all sorts of problems with his offloading in the tackle. AFP via Getty Images 18/31 Damian Penaud - 7 On another day he could have scored a hat-trick, but he did set up a beauty for Vakatawa as he split Biggar and Owens before offloading to the centre. AFP via Getty Images 19/31 Virimi Vakatawa - 8 Possibly his best performance in a France shirt. AFP via Getty Images 20/31 Gael Fickou - 8 Made a superb start to the match as he ran riot with Ntamack, cutting through the gaps left in the Welsh line. AFP via Getty Images 22/31 Romain Ntamack - 8 Ran the show throughout the first half with a stunning display of running rugby. AFP via Getty Images 23/31 Antoine Dupont - 7 Mixed up his play well with a blend of runs and kicks. AFP via Getty Images 26/31 Rabah Slimani - 7 Stood strong in the scrum, but needed to do more with the ball and missed two tackles. REUTERS 28/31 Sebastien Vahaamahina - 3 Got the ball rolling with the opening try of the game, only to go from hero to villain with a stupid deliberate elbow to the head of Wainwright that earned him a straight red card and swung the game in Wales's favour. Wales were handed the most devastating of pre-match blows with Jonathan Davies – one of Gatland's most important players – ruled out of the game before kick-off. They spread the ball left and right and only desperate Welsh defence – which included a George North tackle on Fickou – stopped another try. Still, Wales couldn't retain the ball for long enough and a resilient France stayed in the contest as the game entered the final quarter and turned into a kicking battle. French lock Sebastien Vahaamahina is sent off in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal against Wales. The French were ahead 19-10 in their quarterfinal against Wales on Sunday in Ōita, but were reduced to 14 men after the lock elbowed opposing flanker Aaron Wainwright in the head during a maul early in the second half. CHRISTOPHE ENA/AP Referee Jaco Peyper shows a red card to France's Sébastien Vahaamahina early in the second half in Oita. AARON FAVILA/AP France's Sebastien Vahaamahina leaves the field after receiving a red card in their quarterfinal against Wales.