WALES burgled Les Bleus to book a place in the World Cup semi-finals and avoid the Warren Gatland era ending with the most crushing of disappointments, with the help of a red card.

They will be 80 minutes away from the final when they take to the field in Yokohama but they were seven minutes away from the plane home.

France had a scrum on their line and just needed to boot the ball clear but replacement scrum-half Tomos Williams ripped it away, flanker Justin Tipuric went close and then Dragons number eight Ross Moriarty finished off.

The TMO deemed that the ball had not gone forward and Dan Biggar added the conversion to ultimately secure a 20-19 victory.

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Wales were awful and produced next to nothing in attack but they stayed in the tournament thanks to plugging away and some French assistance.

Missed kicks, a ridiculous red card for Sebastien Vahaamahina after the lock elbowed Dragons flanker Aaron Wainwright and the mystifying decision not to pack down with a number eight close to the Welsh line with the clock ticking down helped the Gatland reign continue.

It was typical France, use all the clichés you want.

Just like in Paris, when they came back from 16-0 down at half-time on the first step towards a Grand Slam, Wales escaped.

Gatland claimed earlier this year during their long winning streak that they had forgotten how to lose, but it was France's inability to close out the victory that did the job here.

Wales will now that they will need to be much, much better in Yokohama against South Africa.

They will also hope to have Lions centre Jonathan Davies back in midfield after he was a late withdrawal with a knee injury.

In his absence, Wales spluttered in attack and their tries, from Dragons back rowers Aaron Wainwright and Moriarty, both came from French errors.

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France made a sharp start and it was third time lucky for Les Bleus after George North and Justin Tipuric had made crucial interventions close to their line.

There was to be no stopping giant lock Vahaamahina, however, after a lineout drive had come up just shy of the line.

Romain Ntamack badly missed the conversion but he had no problems with the simple effort in the ninth minute after a cracking score.

Centre Virimi Vakatawa breezed past flanker Josh Navidi and then half-backs Ntamack and Dupont combined to put flanker Charles Ollivon under the posts.

At 12-0 down Wales needed a response to settle the nerves, and they got one with a bit of fortune.

A big defensive hit by lock Jake Ball dislodge the ball from carrying hooker Guilhem Guirado and it fell kindly to Dragons flanker Wainwright, who galloped away for his first Test try.

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Fly-half Dan Biggar added the extras and the added a penalty to cut the gap to 12-10 after 20 breathless minutes.

Wales lost Josh Navidi to injury, with ice strapped to his left hamstring, leading to Ross Moriarty entering the fray earlier than planned on 27 minutes.

Just 90 seconds later the Dragons number eight was sat back on the touchline after a swinging arm caught centre Gael Fickou high.

The 14 men were soon back under their posts after a peach of a score by Les Bleus after they carried hard and then producing a bit of magic, Ntamack pulling the strings and then wing Damian Penaud putting Vakatawa over.

Wales were rattled and it took scrambling defence, and a bad penalty miss, to keep the score down to 19-10 at the break.

They needed to strip things back and avoid being so manic.

France were forced into a half-time change with Camille Lopez replacing the injured Ntamack and the left-footer missed an early drop goal, an attempt to stretch the blue buffer.

Wales had yet another escape when they repelled driving lineouts… and that prompted Vahaamahina's moment of madness.

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Wales chipped away at the lead through the boot of Biggar to make it 19-13 after 54 minutes but then had to defend strongly inside their 22 to repel Les Bleus.

The game entered the final quarter with France trying to slow things down but they needed a huge moment from Huget when Wales moved into the 22, wing Yoann intercepting a George North pass with numbers waiting down the right.

The clock was worryingly ticking down for Wales, whose sole try had come from a French error.

A French mistake, playing the scrum-half at a ruck, allowed Biggar to boot to the 22 in the 73rd minute but a knock on by replacement tighthead Dillon Lewis, the ball dislodged in the tackle, gave the opportunity for an escape.

But Wales denied them that escape with replacement scrum-half Tomos Williams ripping the ball for flanker Justin Tipuric to go close and then Moriarty to turn from villain to hero.

Biggar added the conversion and the semi-finals beckon, somehow.

Wales: L Williams; G North, O Watkin, H Parkes, J Adams; D Biggar, G Davies (T Williams 55); W Jones (R Carre 62), K Owens (E Dee 75), T Francis (D Lewis 62); J Ball (A Beard 62), AW Jones; A Wainwright, J Tipuric, J Navidi (R Moriarty 27).

Scorers: tries – A Wainwright, R Moriarty; conversions – D Biggar (2); penalties – D Biggar (2)

France scorers: tries – S Vahaamahina, C Ollivon, V Vakatawa; conversions – R Ntamack (2)

Referee: Jaco Peyper (SA)