Wales coach Warren Gatland admitted he felt relieved after his side advanced into the World Cup semi-finals with a come-from-behind 20-19 victory over France in Oita.
Les Bleus were leading 19-10 when lock Sebastien Vahaamahina was sent off for an elbow in the 48th minute. Wales subsequently secured the win via Ross Moriarty’s 74th-minute try, which was converted by Dan Biggar.
When asked whether he was happy or relieved, Gatland told ITV: “We’re relieved, I think. In fairness to France they played exceptionally well tonight. They scored a couple of early tries, we got back into it a little bit and then the message at half-time was we just have to score next.
“We were able to do that, and the red card was obviously pretty significant. But the thing I’m proud about with these guys is they didn’t give in.
“They just kept waiting for an opportunity that was going to come, a big scrum at the end of the game, fantastic by Thomas Williams and it was a one-point victory, kind of the other way but similar to 2011 (against France in the World Cup semi-finals) when we had the red card and lost by a point.
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“So, not the prettiest in the world, but some great character shown. Losing becomes a habit but so does winning as well, so we are in that sort of winning habit at the moment. They [France] are a good team with some real quality players. We’ll take that, even though it’s a little bit ugly, and the biggest thing is you don’t go home tomorrow – we’re here for the next two weeks.”
Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones also highlighted his side’s character. Jones said: “We were slow out the blocks. We probably continued in a similar vein to how we started against Fiji, which is slightly disappointing.
“But the character we showed to come through – obviously there was an advantage in the second half after the card, but we kept plugging away and came out on the right side of the scoreboard. We’re pleased. There is plenty for us to work on, but ultimately we are pleased with the result.”
– Press Association
WATCH: Warren Gatland’s media conference after Wales defeated France in Oita
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