The question on everyone’s mind: Which France would turn up to play in this quarter final?
2 tries in the opening 10 minutes showed France were here to play. Passion, power and offloads were the order of the day.
Wales were completely overwhelmed by the fast French and looked visibly shaken after the opening 10 minutes.
Calming their nerves, Wales proceeded to score a converted try and penalty goal to take the scores to 12 – 10. But yet again conceded points, going into half time 19 – 10 in favour of the French.
At the beginning of the second half, it looked like the French were going to run away with game. Hot on attack in the 49th minute, a rolling maul was hurtling toward the try line. When the biggest brain explosion, since Scotland threatened to sue World Rugby, unfolded.
Sebastien Vahaamahina first put his opponent in a head lock (dangerous ground) before cocking his arm and elbowed his opponent in the head with Force. Red Card every day of the week. Classic own goal. Single handedly let the Welsh back into the match. A moment of discipline would have (probably) resulted in French points, Welsh spirits broken and a date with Japan/SA next week. But no, unfiltered passion again bites the French.
Surprisingly, however, France continued to dominate. Save a Dan Biggar penalty goal, France looked in relative control the whole half. As the game marched toward full time, Wales were 6 points behind, but looked impotent to score, unable to penetrate the French defences in any meaningful way.
Eventually Wales did visit the French quarter, and as was customary knocked the ball on. 6 minutes to go. French Scrum. Scrum resets. Classic slow play from the French looked like it would pay dividends.
The scrum was fed by the French scrum half and immediately went backwards under pressure. Although, instead of the expected Welsh penalty, the ball emmerged and both 9’s tussled for possession. The Welsh 9 stripped the ball into the hands of a team mate, who crashed over for a crucial 5 pointer.
The Welsh were jubilant, until the dreaded TMO referral interjected. On field decision was try, but the question was asked; “did the ball go forward in the strip?” A divisive moment.
And in a moment of revelation, we witness the moment nobody was expecting. TMO Marius Yonker desperately needs a hair cut. Once that shock was done and dusted, it was revealed nothing clear and obvious to overturn the on field decision of try. The score went to 19- 20 in favour of Wales, the score would remain til full time.
But not before some excellent referee management from the Welsh at Scrum time. Just shy of 4 minutes wasted in scrum resets. Jaco Peyper eventually relented and awarded the scrum penalty.
Warren Gatland summed it up best post match saying “the better team lost on the day.” But if your player is dumb enough to strike an opponent in the era of the High tackle framework, you deserve to lose.
Final Score: Wales 20 – France 19