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Gatland Proud of Wales Against Strong French Side

His side showed 'great character' as they reach the RWC semi finals.

Warren Gatland says Wales didn't play their best but showed 'great character' as they beat France by a single point to secure a place in the Rugby World Cup semi finals.

They'll face South Africa after they won their game against Japan yesterday.

it wasn't the prettiest 80 minutes but a red card for the French and a Ross Moriarty try for Wales saw them win 20-19.

"We didn't play our best tonight, but we showed some character and that is testament to this group of men. We're in a semi-final of a World Cup and we can be excited about looking forward to that," said Gatland.

"Alun Wyn has been saying to the players that they had 240 minutes to do something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. We’re now down to 160 and if you can’t get excited about that, nothing will excite you."

Wales didn't lead until Ross Moriarty went over for the decisive score in the 74th minute and Dan Biggar added the conversion. France had led from the fifth minute when Sebastien Vahaamahina crashed over for a try in the fifth minute.

A second score followed a few minutes later from back row man Charles Ollivon and Les Bleus were seemingly on the march to a fourth World Cup semi-final. But just as they had done in Paris, where they overturned a 16 point half-time deficit, Wales clawed their way back from 12-0 down to win the match.

"Credit to these Welsh players, they just never give up and even when they are under a bit of pressure they keep fighting and find a way to get a result.

"After France had come out and started exceptionally well the message at half-time was that we needed to score first. We knew we would get some opportunities and it would come.

"You have to take your hat off to France and I thought they were excellent. They were unlucky and had definitely improved as a side from the Six Nations.

"The red card was significant, but it can also galvanise a team. It is ironic that the last time we met in the World Cup there was a red card and it was a one point game as well."

The sending off of French lock Vahaamahina for elbowing Aaron Wainwright in the face at a line-out maul nine minutes into the second half was a tipping point in the game. France were leading 19-10 at the time.

"I thought the official dealt well with it appropriately. I don’t think anyone could complain about that and I think the right decision was made," said Gatland.

"Unfortunately that is what rugby is about. It’s heat of the moment stuff and he has just made an error of judgement.

"When you have a lot of testosterone involved, and pretty high intensity games, sometimes it is going to happen. He has just made a poor decision.

"France employed a very simple game plan. They were strong off nine, used some strong runners to get over the gain line and showed some exceptional off-loading as well.

"I definitely went through a lot of emotions today, but I’m very proud of the players and how they hung in there."

Jonathan Davies missed the game because of a knee injury, while No 8 Josh Navidi limped out of the game after 28 minutes. Gatland is now hoping both men can recover in time to face South Africa on Sunday in the semi-final.

"Josh looks like he has done a bit of a hamstring and we don’t know how severe that is. Jonathan was not far away from being right and he just made a decision that was best for the team,” added Gatland.

"I was concerned during the week we would go into the game with two midfielders carrying knocks. Jonathan pulled out of the ‘Captains Run’.

"We assessed him on the morning of the match and while he was not far away, but he wasn’t 100 per cent. The plan over the next 48 hours is for him to put himself in contention for the semi-final."

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