Rugby | Wales leave it late to beat 14-man France

Wales have beaten France 20-19 in an enthralling Rugby World Cup quarter-final in Oita.

Ross Moriarty’s late try sealed Wales’ place in the last four – where they will face either hosts Japan or South Africa – at the expense of the French, who had Sebastien Vahaamahina sent off in the second half.

Warren Gatland’s men have now won five Rugby World Cup matches in a row for the first time in their history.

Les Bleus led by nine points at half time, but were forced to play the last half hour with 14 men after Vahaamahina’s vicious elbow on Aaron Wainwright.

France were brilliant for large periods of the game, with Gatland admitting afterwards that “the better team lost”.

It was Vahaamahina who registered the game’s first points for France; the second row powering over from close range for a fifth-minute try following a strong line-out from Les Bleus.

However, Romain Ntamack missed his conversion.

Wales struggled to live with the rampant French in the opening quarter, and Jacques Brunel’s men notched their second try in the 12th minute.

Flanker Charles Ollivon crossed the whitewash after being picked out by Antoine Dupont following a wonderful France move.

This time, Ntamack added a conversion to make it 12-0.

Wales hit back five minutes later, with Wainwrigt recording his maiden international try at a crucial time, collecting a loose ball and sprinting clear to make it 12-5.

Dan Biggar’s trusty boot reduced the deficit by a further two points from the subsequent conversion.

Wales were awarded a penalty in the 20th minute after a high tackle from Vahaamahina, with Biggar duly splitting the posts to make it 12-10. 

Moriarty was sent to the in bin just before the hour mark for a high tackle on Gael Fickou, and France scored their third try shortly afterwards when Virimi Vakatawa was set up by Damian Penaud.

Ntamack added another conversion to make it 19-10 at the interval.

Brunel’s side led by nine at the half-way point, but had plenty of chances to carry a bigger lead into the break.

France lost Ntamack through injury, with Camille Lopez emerging in his stead after the restart.

The game turned on it head in the 48th minute when Vahaamahina was shown a straight red card for a despicable elbow on Wainwright.

Six minutes later, Biggar registered the first points of the second half, sending a penalty over to take Wales to within six point of their European opponents.

The crucial breakthrough in a gripping and nail-biting second half came six minutes from time, when Moriarty crashed over the line following a huge scrum from Wales.

A nervous TMO consultation added to the tension, but the try was eventually awarded, much to the relief of the Welsh fans inside the Oita Bank Dome.

Biggar kept his cool to convert and make it 20-19.

Wales will face the winner of Japan and the Springboks, while Brunel’s two-year reign as France manager comes to an end.