Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones hailed his side’s determination in a thrilling 20-19 victory against 14-man France in Oita.
France struck with three first-half tries - through Sebastien Vahaamahina, Charles Ollivon and Virimi Vakatawa - as Aaron Wainwright kept Wales in the tie.
Ross Moriarty was sin-binned moments after coming onto the pitch as a substitute, but it was Vahaamahina’s second-half red card which proved pivotal.
Moriarty then scored a late try, converted by Dan Biggar, which saw Warren Gatland’s men through to the World Cup semi-finals.
Jones said in a post-match interview on ITV: “I think 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.”
Gatland echoed Jones’ sentiments - admitting it was not the best performance but is happy with Wales’ winning ‘habit’.
The New Zealand-born Wales coach also hinted that the win helped put to bed the demons of a 2011 - a semi-final defeat to France, when Sam Warburton was sent off as they lost to the same opponents by the same margin.
“We’re relieved, I think,” Gatland said. “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.
“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.”
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