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- Wales v France player ratings: Who fired in the heat of battle, and who disappointed?
Wales staged a stunning fightback victory to win a gripping World Cup quarter-final in Oita after France pressed the self-destruct button .
The Six Nations champions’ 20-19 victory was secured by Ross Moriarty’s 74th-minute try that Dan Biggar converted.
There was an agonising wait while the officials checked for a possible Wales knock-on in build-up play, but the try was awarded.
A Wales win looked unlikely for long periods as an often flamboyant and brilliant French team dominated.
But the game changed course after Les Bleus lock Sebastien Vahaamahina was sent off in the 48th minute for elbowing Wales flanker Aaron Wainwright in the face.
Wales trailed by nine points at the time, but they dug deep after an earlier Wainwright try, while Biggar booted 10 points.
France were breathtaking at times, showcasing their beguiling best as Vahaamahina, flanker Charles Ollivon and centre Virimi Vakatawa scored first-half tries.
Wales conceded two touchdowns during the first eight minutes, had Moriarty sin-binned for a high tackle, yet they somehow got over the winning line.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland steps down after the tournament following a 12-year reign highlighted by three Six Nations Grand Slams.
And Wales’ World Cup adventure will now continue for at least another week, with Japan or South Africa their semi-final opponents.
It was the eighth time in nine attempts since France knocked Wales out of the 2011 World Cup for Wales to defeat Les Bleus.
And it was a win that was underpinned by their fearless resolve, never-say-die attitude and unshakeable self-belief.
Wales suffered a major blow ahead of the game when their British and Lions centre Jonathan Davies was ruled out after aggravating a knee injury.
Owen Watkin moved off the bench to take over in midfield, with Leigh Halfpenny joining the replacements.
Wales were rattled by an aggressive French start as their big ball-carriers made headway.
It was all hands to the pump for Wales’ defenders, but France went ahead after five minutes when Vahaamahina powered over for a try from close range.
And before Wales could recover from that setback, they fell further behind after a brilliant France move from inside their own half saw scrum-half Antoine Dupont deliver a scoring pass to Ollivon.
Fly-half Romain Ntamack converted Ollivon’s score, and France were rampant, leading 12-0 after just eight minutes.
Wales had to reply quickly following such an unsettling opening, and they delivered courtesy of a 12th-minute try for Wainwright.
The Dragons forward, who had never previously scored for his country, gathered a loose ball and then galloped clear from 30 metres out to touch down, with Biggar’s conversion making it 12-7.
It was a strong response, and then Biggar kicked a penalty to leave Wales just two points adrift after 20 minutes.
Wales appeared back in the contest, and they began to shade the territorial battle, but the Six Nations champions then suffered an injury blow when flanker Josh Navidi went off and was replaced by Moriarty.
But Moriarty had not been on the pitch for two minutes when referee Jaco Peyper yellow-carded him for a high tackle on France centre Gael Fickou.
Moriarty’s exit left Wales at sixes and sevens, and France punished them in ruthless fashion when Vakatawa crossed for their third try.
Ntamack converted to make it 19-10, and 14-man Wales were left hanging on, and they had a mountain to climb as Moriarty returned.
Ntamack went off at half-time and was replaced by Camille Lopez, but Vahaamahina was then sent off following a crass act of stupidity that left Peyper with no choice but to brandish a red card.
A Biggar penalty cut the gap to six points, and then came pulsating late drama as Wales triumphed.
Mick Cleary’s verdict
There are no chinless wonders, wobbling and wondering, in the Wales squad.
They simply knuckle down to the job in hand, down-to-earth and phlegmatic, the mirror image of their captain, Alun Wyn Jones.
Even the young guns that step up into the firing line seem to be imbued with that never-say-die attitude.
You can read the verdict from Oita,here.
Our player ratings are live! See how our man in Oita ranked the teams’ performances, by clicking here.
Warren Gatland speaks to ITV
We are relieved. France played exceptionally well tonight. They had big men coming off 9 and getting over the gainline.
The message at half-time was that we had to score next.
The red card was pretty significant but i’m proud that these guys did not give in.
France have improved a lot since the Six Nations. Losing becomes a habit but so does winning as well – and we’re in that habit at the minute.
We’ll take that win despite the fact it was a little ugly. We are here still. A lot of work to do for next week and we just need to be as professional as we possibly can in preparation for next week.
France implode again – social media reacts
Alun Wyn Jones speaks to ITV
We kept plugging away but we were slow out the blocks.
We had to break them down and keep chipping away but they were strong in the contact area.
We are pleased but there is plenty for us to work on.
To see he fans come over is great – that red wave is getting even bigger.
Not quite sure how Messrs Vakatawa, Fickou, Dupont and Penaud ended up on the losing side, however.
France implode again; all self-inflicted.
— Brian Moore (@brianmoore666) October 20, 2019
Redemption for Moriarty, too
Had to be another twist, with Wales playing to make sure Warren Gatland’s tenure carries on for the final two weeks of the World Cup. Redemption for Moriarty after his yellow card in the first half as his try gives Wales the lead #fravswal
— Gavin Mairs (@GavinMairs) October 20, 2019
Wales return the favour
France beat Wales by one point in the 2011 World Cup after Warren Gatland’s men had a man sent off.
Wales have just beaten France by one point, eight years later, after Les Bleus had a man sent off.
Full-time: Wales 20 France 19
Wales’ maul is strong but France rally to defend well – but they can’t get their hands on the ball.
Wales run down the clock and Biggar thumps it into the crowd.
Never in doubt…
79 min: Wales 20 France 19
Wales win the scrum penalty as Setiano is judged to have collapsed.
Biggar kicks Wales to within 20 metres of the France line, with 90 seconds remaining.
77 min: Wales 20 France 19
Afew collapsed scrums play into Wales’ hands, with time running out for France…
76 min: Wales 20 France 19
Medard makes his first error of the match as his returning kick from the restart is far too long and rolls dead.
Wales will have the scrum on halfway.
75 min: CONVERSION BIGGAR Wales 20 France 19
TMO confirms the score and Wales lead for the first time in the match.
Five minutes to go – what a time to do it.
74 min: TRY MORIARTY Wales 18 France 19
What has happened here!
Picamoles gets stripped at the back of the scrum and the ball flies in the air. Tipuric collects it and comes to within an inch of the line.
Moriarty picks up and dots down. Wales are delirious but the TMO is checking this strip. Did it go forward?
74 min: Wales 13 France 19
Wales drive a maul to within 15 metres before North and T Williams get them to within 10.
But there’s a knock-on at the base of the ruck – Lewis fumbled as he tried to pick and go.
France scrum 10 metres out from their own line, then.
73 min: Wales 13 France 19
France bizarrely put no No 8 into the scrum and, lo-and-behold, the ball squirts out at the back for T Williams to pounce on. Wales clear in France territory before Medard kicks back.
Biggar decides the aerial option is best, but Lopez collects well. France are under pressure just outside their own 22 but they, crucially, have the ball.
Dupont clears up to halfway as Williams runs it back. Gabrillagues is penalised for playing the nine and Biggar puts Wales onto the French 22.
This is Wales’ moment.
70 min: Wales 13 France 19
Vakatawa with an absolutely monstrous carry blasting straight through Biggar – that looked nasty.
The immense French centre gets France to within five metres of the Wales line, and they earn a scrum after the ball was unplayable – nothing illegal apparently.
Lopez will sure try a drop-goal here. Anything more than that for France and surely it’s game over.
68 min: Wales 13 France 19
Gabrillagues wins the lineout on halfway before Dupont dummies a box-kick, making 10 metres.
Lopez puts a bomb to the Wales 22 and Williams knocks it on. That looked a suspect call. France will scrum on the Wales 22.
Wouldn’t be surprised to see a first-phase drop goal from Lopez here. He’s bang in front with a scrum on the 22.
66 min: Wales 13 France 19
Wales can’t control the maul, however, as it flies off a boot and France clear up to halfway.
Wales come back through Tipuric and Wainwright down the right, before T Williams breaks through!
Wales work into the France 22 before finding a huge overlap – North looks to find support – they are queuing up – but Hugest intercepts! Wales are penalised at the ensuing ruck for not rolling away and France clear!
That’s a massive moment.
63 min: Wales 13 France 19
Wales clear and Penaud spills, so Wales have a chance to attack on halfway, but Tipuric is hammered by Vakatawa.
France’s centre is penalised for not rolling away, however, and Biggar prods Wales up to the France 22, where they will throw in.
Beard is on for Ball, incidentally – the latter has had a tremendous match.
61 min: Wales 13 France 19
Medard tries a speculative 50-metre drop-goal from Wales’ clearance and it doesn’t even get off the ground.
It does, however, just about have the legs to make it to the line, and Biggar dots down for a 22 restart.
Medard then puts in a delicious diagonal grubber into the Wales 22 and Biggar can’t get to it. Wales will have to attack from deep within their own half.
59 min: Wales 13 France 19
Wales thwart the French maul before Vakatawa starts a mazy run off first phase. Le Roux and chat carry around the corner, before Francis sends Fickou rolling backwards,
Chat and Vakatawa carry strongly again, before Le Roux sends Welsh bodies flying with a fearsome charge.
It’s slow for France as Lopez goes back into the pocket.
But it’s a double-cross! France attack blind and Vakatawa makes a half-break, he gets his arms free but his offload can’t find Penaud. Penaud would have been in at the corner there.
Wales survive with a scrum.
57 min: Wales 13 France 19
It’s all Wales now. Parkes carries well off the restart, taking his team to inside the France half.
But Poirot wins the holding on penalty and France survive. Lopez kicks them down to the Wales 22 and they will throw into the lineout.
55 min: BIGGAR PENALTY Wales 13 France 19
An easy three points for Biggar.
Vahaamahina may have cost France this match and, although he cannot be blamed personally for the Six Nations loss earlier in the year, he had a similar moment of stupidity in throwing a howling, looping mispass that was intercepted for the winning Welsh try.
53 min: Wales 10 France 19
Wales start the maul again, before Davies breaks to the blindside.
Owens carries, before Alun Wyn Jones drives Wales over the gainline.
Alldritt is pinged for not rolling away and Biggar will kick for three points. There was some debate th
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