It was a big theft and Warren Gatland knew that. He didn't even try to hide it. When the Wales coach went to cheer up his opponent's numbers, he spread his arms wide, as if in a daze.
The movement toward Jacques Brunel recounted. The Gatland team has qualified for victory.
Deep down, he would know that they were hardly worthy of this result, which pushed them to the second World Cup semi-final in eight years. At least he has the good grace to admit that France is out of luck.
The Wales players reacted after Ross Moriarty scored the winner who tried to defeat France in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup
Wales had to wait until the last six minutes before Moriarty's converted attempt made them beat France 20-19 at Oita Dome
Somehow, Wales played badly – really bad – and persisted in telling the story.
They benefit from two prizes; one from the opposition and one from the officials. First, France locked Sebastien Vahaamahina, swinging his elbow into Aaron Wainwright's face and sent off, just as his team threatened to score again and take an iron grip on the quarter-finals that oppose this logic.
The incident came with half an hour left. Prizes from officials were followed with only six minutes left. Gatland sat helpless in the coach's box, watching his 12-year regime recede before him when Wales was helped to get out of prison.
Sebastien Vahaamahina was given a red card in the second half after a terrible elbow to Aaron Wainwright (left)
Elbow Vahaamahina during the commotion was not found by the referee but was investigated by TMO who caused his dismissal
After the review, there were no surprises when referee Jaco Peyper sent a French key to leave them with 14 players
France had a scrum in front of their line and they were pushed back strongly by Welsh forces. Tomos Williams tore the ball from the grip of Louis Picamoles and Justin Tipuric grabbed it almost a meter.
He threw himself forward but was stopped by Camille Lopez. But Ross Moriarty – who had been a sinner before, soon after coming in as a substitute – was there in addition to support and he was able to take it and hit to score.
When he reached the stands, Gatland maintained a measured expression, but inside he must have turned. Referee Jaco Peyper referred to a trial sequence for TMO Marius Jonker and replays seemed to indicate that the ball had curved forward after it was pulled out by Williams. However, after examining it carefully, TMO and the referee agreed to award the trial.
Suddenly, the escape is alive. And Biggar rightly sent a routine conversion and Wales were in front, with one point. They still had to endure when France raged bravely against the dying of the light, but the Grand Slam champions showed their toughness and resolve in the tense moments at the end.
They fought bravely in scrum, ran all the time and finally Biggar was able to send the ball to the stand, to complete the impossible comeback.
Vahaamahina got France off to a great start after scoring their first try in the fifth minute at the Oita Stadium
Charles Ollivon crossed the line just three minutes later to stun Wales in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup
Ollivon (right) celebrates his attempt, France's second match in front of Wales's George North (left), as they take control
Wales: L. Williams, North, Watkin, Parkes, Adams, Biggar, G. Davies (T. Williams 55), W. Jones (Carre 63), Owens (Dee 76), Francis (Lewis 63), Ball (Beard 63), A. Jones, Wainwright, Tipuric, Navidi (Moriarty 28)
Try: Wainwright, Moriarty
Conversion: Biggar (2)
Punishment: Biggar (2)
France: Medard (Rattez 77), Penaud, Vakatawa, Fickou, Huget, Ntamack (Lopez 41), Dupont (Serin 73), Poirot (Rescue 68), Guirado (Chat 50), Slimani (Setiano 73), Le Roux (Picamoles 66) , Vahaamahina, Lauret, Ollivon, Alldritt (Gabrillagues 55)
Try: Vahaamahina, Ollivon, Vakatawa
Conversion: Ntamack (2)
Red card: Vaahamahina
For Gatland, the latest attempt to prevent his tenure in charge of Wales ended in a bleak way, after so many glorious peaks over the years. But when help subsides, he will not doubt this week's equation. If his team does not change within seven days, their title challenge will end next week.
Yesterday, France was better in almost every aspect of the game besides the important issue of collecting points. They are strong and eloquent and creative. Half of their scrum, Antoine Dupont, gave the master class. Their centers, Gael Fickou and Virimi Vakatawa – the latter in particular – raged in midfield and spread chaos in the Wales defense.
If Wales wants to fly under the radar, their performance is the perfect way to do it. They will be eliminated, which Gatland really likes.
What he didn't like was the task of reviewing the last half hour, when his players worked hard to reverse the deficit of 14 players. Welsh attacks hardly function at all. There was no authority when they tried to move the ball wide. Their decision making was revealed with concern.
But still, they found a way to win – and extended their crusade to the second round of the tournament.
In 2011, that's where it ends, with the defeat of these opponents in Auckland. They will definitely need Jonathan Davies back if they want to avoid the same fate this time. The Lions center was ruled out just before kick-off and its deception and nous were missed.
France is considered an underdog here, but they don't play like that. They twice tried to do good in eight minutes.
The first came from the drive lineout and Vahaamahina was the one who forced his way to score a goal – before then becoming a pantomime villain, for a wild attack on Wainwright for which Peyper was punished properly. The second saw the flanker Charles Ollivon clear to the post, after Vakatawa, Romain Ntamack and Dupont combined with extraordinary midfield.
But France immediately blew most of their 12-0 lead when Wainwright scored for Wales and it was a match
Wainwright was congratulated by his teammate in Wales after his 12th attempt brought a much needed initial response
Wales rearguard Moriarty (left) can do nothing after harsh tackling on French midfielder Gael Fickou in the first round
Ntamack added a conversion and Wales lost 12-0, before Wainwright responded back; pounced when French captain Guilhem Guirado spilled the ball in contact and stormed off to score a goal that converted Biggar.
When Wales fly-half added a penalty in the 20th minute, it seemed that his team took the initiative, but then they lost it again.
Josh Navidi had to get away from injury and his successor, Moriarty, quickly sinned because he tripped Fickou. France took advantage of it, when their troops returned to the field and Damian Penaud released Vakatawa, who tried to score a goal.
After the break, the dismissal of Vahaamahina gave Wales a chance to rise and conquer. They took it, almost. Gatland knew they were lucky, but a lucky victory was certainly better than his regime which ended with the fall of the World Cup.
France took advantage of Wales who dropped to 14 players before the break when Vrimi Vakatawa left for their third try
Vakatawa's efforts helped give France a 19-10 lead over Wales in the first round when he was congratulated by his team mate