Gatland praises "better team" France after quarter-final escape

Rugby World Cup
by AFP

Wales coach Warren Gatland said the "better team lost" after his side came from behind to beat 14-man France 20-19 in a World Cup quarter-final on Sunday.

Gatland's 12-year-reign as Wales boss will end after Japan 2019 and it looked like this might have been his last match in charge when France led 12-0 and 19-10.

But the match turned in the 49th minute when, with France still leading by nine points, lock Sebastien Vahaamahina, who scored the first of Les Bleus'

three tries was sent off for a blatant elbow to the face of Wales flanker Aaron Wainwright.

Wales closed the gap and eventually completed their comeback with a converted try six minutes from time by replacement back-row forward Ross Moriarty.

"I think the better team lost today," Gatland said after Wales gained revenge for their agonising 9-8 loss to France in the 2011 semi-finals, when then captain Sam Warburton was sent off.

"The thing about our boys is they don't give up, they keep trying until the end," Gatland said. "We kept working away."

"France came out of the blocks well," the New Zealander added.

"At half-time we just said we've got to score next, we did that and obviously the red card was the significant moment."

Meanwhile Alun Wyn Jones, looking to become the first Wales captain to lift the World Cup, said: "I think we were slow out the blocks.

"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," the veteran lock added.

Wales take on the winner of Sunday's Japan-South Africa quarter-final in a semi-final in Yokohama on Sunday October 27.