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Dublin: 16 °C Wednesday 17 July, 2019
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It’s the last-four match-up for which many of you hoped, but Wales v France is a mouth-watering prospect. Get in contact by emailing adrian@thescore.ie, find us on Facebook or tweet!

FULL-TIME: Wales 8 France 9

Good morning and welcome to the penultimate weekend of TheScore‘s Saturday morning wide-awake club.

I’ve built a fort, burned some toast and, now, we’re all quite looking forward to what could be a pretty epic semi-final in Eden Park.

It’s a case of look at what you could have one for the Irish, but Wales and France are sure to serve up a memorable semi-final. Stay with us.

As I get the team-sheets and we finish up the anthems, get your predictions in.

The weather you ask? Well it looked a lovely night in Auckland until perhaps 10 minutes ago. Then the heavens opened.

Wales have enjoyed the first drive towards the French 22 but the early opportunity is lost when the wet ball is slipped. There’s been a few handling errors already interestingly.

Here’s those teams:

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams; James Hook, Mike Phillips; Gethin Jenkins, Huw Bennett, Adam Jones, Luke Charteris, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (capt), Toby Faletau.

Replacements: Lloyd Burns, Paul James, Bradley Davies, Ryan Jones, Lloyd Williams, Stephen Jones, Scott Williams.

France: Maxime Medard; Vincent Clerc, Aurelien Rougerie, Maxime Mermoz, Alexis Palisson; Morgan Parra, Dimitri Yachvili; Jean-Baptiste Poux, William Servat, Nicolas Mas, Pascal Pape, Lionel Nallet, Thierry Dusautoir (capt), Julien Bonnaire, Imanol Harinordoquy.

Replacements: Dimitri Szarzewski, Fabien Barcella, Julien Pierre, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Francois Trinh-Duc, Jean-Marc Doussain, Cedric Heymans.

PENALTY James Hook nails a tricky penalty from out wide and the many in red throughout the stadium roar their approval. Good start.

Adam Jones looked to be struggling after that successful penalty attempt – and indeed he has left the fray injured. That could be massive blow for Wales’ scrum. Paul James trots on.

Here’s an interesting one, fact fans:

Three of the four teams that have opened their scoring in a Rugby World Cup semi-final with a penalty goal have gone on to win the match

Deary me! James Hook missed a penalty from in front of the posts.

As I was laughing through a mouthful of Coco Pops however, the TV showed us a nifty little perspective on the kicker’s standing foot slipping as he made contact. It’s not easy out there.

Oooh, Wales almost carved them up there. Shane Williams made a gap, fed Jamie Roberts who scissored with him, but the offload hops off his fellow centre Davies’ face.

RED CARD Sam Warburton, Wales captain has been set off by Irish ref Alain Roland. That is a disaster.

Donal Lenihan thinks that decision is a tragedy for Warburton and the game. Who am I to disagree?

The Welsh skipper is sitting on the bench now because he’s been judged to dump tackle France winger Clerc. This will be some effort to get to the final now.

World Cup latest scores

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By James Standley

18 mins: Disaster for Wales. Captain Warburton is red carded for a dump tackle on France winger Clerc.
Twitter

SDJDavies42 on Twitter: "Watching Wales vs France at work on Aviano Air Force Base, Italy. Getting the Americans behind Wales. Never been so nervous!"

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)

MC, via text on 81111: "Spent ages looking for live stream via PC in Chongqing, China. Resigned myself to following on BBC website and found it's live on TV in hotel room!"

16 mins: Wales 3-0 France
Another threatening Wales attack as Roberts scissors with Shane Williams and powers towards the French 22, but the move breaks down when he fires a pass inside and it bounces off fellow centre Davies' forehead.
14 mins: Wales 3-0 France
North escapes down the left flank to put Wales deep into France territory. Faletau hammers on and Wales move the ball back to North, but the winger is bundled into touch. Wales defintely on top at the moment.
11 mins: Wales 3-0 France
Hook's foot slips in the greasy surface and his kicks slides to the left of the posts.
MISSED PENALTY Wales 3-0 France
10 mins: Wales 3-0 France
Wales immediately look under pressure at the scrum but the referee penalises France. Hook lines up a very kickable penalty shot as a result.
8 min: Wales 3-0 France
Hook bangs over the penalty from wide on the left, but Wales immediately suffer a massive blow as tight-head Adam Jones limps off, to be replace by Paul James.
PENALTY Wales 3-0 France
6 mins: Hook cross-kicks for winger North. Wales number eight Faletau takes the ball on and France captain Dusautoir is penalised for coming round off-side.
5 mins: France prop Poux knocks on to halt a French attack inside the Wales 22. Hook bangs the clearance deep but France counter through Palisson. After France launch a high kick winger Clerc is penalised for holding on at a ruck.
3mins: France hooker Servat breaks off the back of a maul and makes 30m. Wales managed to halt him but knock on and France get the put-in 10m out.
2 mins: Wales win the line-out and set up a driving maul, but lose control of the ball. At the resulting scrum Wales look to have the nudge on but Jenkins slips and France clear from the penalty.
1 min: Wales 0-0 France
The rain has now stopped in Auckland, but the ball will still be greasy as there is plenty of water on the grass. Hook hangs the ball high and deep and we're under way. Yachvili claims and clears to just outside the France 22.
0900: The names echo down the years. Gareth Edwards, Phil Bennett, Barry John, JPR... The great Welsh sides of the 1970s dominated the European game, winning three Grand Slams with a brand of attacking rugby that sealed their place in history as much as the silverware that came with it. Since those heady days there have been fine Welsh teams but none have quickened the pulse quite as much as the exciting young side that has stormed into the semi-finals of the 2011 World Cup. George North, Sam Warburton, Jamie Roberts, Mike Phillips. Can you hear that boys? That's history calling...
0857: The anthems - what classics they are - are being belted out, we're minutes from kick-off.
Text in your views on 81111 (UK)

Anon, via text on 81111: "On the island escape cruise ship in sardinia and the welsh have taken over the terminal building to watch the game! Come on wales "

0852: Wales legend Martyn Williams thinks the conditions will favour Wales, because of their defence. There are monsoon conditions in Auckland, proper sub-tropical rain.
Text in your views on 81111 (UK)

Repeat correspondent Debbiethewelshgirl (see below), via text on 81111: "Nervous. Very nervous. And now taxi driver lost!"

Twitter

OptaJim on Twitter: "Toby Faletau is still yet to miss a tackle at this World Cup, he has made 65 tackles so far (the second most of any player). Wall."

0844: +++Breaking weather news from our man on the scene+++ Rain now falling at Eden Park. Who does this favour? Both sides like to play a handling game, but with a slippery ball and a greasy surface, it might be that the side that kicks best is now favourite. My colleague Bryn (he's Welsh you know) thinks the conditions may now favour France, or at least have evened things up...
Twitter

thefuxor on Twitter: "in Wales, Rugby is like The Force - it surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds us together as a people. #BBCRWC #RWC"

0839: Just over 20 minutes to go now, and it you think you're nervous, just imagine what it's like in the changing rooms at Eden Park. There's 60,000 fans at the game in Auckland, but there's even more at the Millennium Stadium. Anyone planning to go shopping in Cardiff later, best leave it eh.
Text in your views on 81111 (UK)

Anon, via text on 81111: "am from Valencia (Spain) but support Cymru today!!!"

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)

Debbiethewelshgirl, via text on 81111: "Taken a 50 minute taxi ride to Side, Turkey, in the hope we can find a bar showing the rugby."

Twitter

BBC Sport's danroan on Twitter: "Huge sense of goodwill towards Wales here from New Zealanders. They know a NZ v Wales final would be a fitting climax to a great tournament."

0830: Wales have made just the one change from the side which beat Ireland in the last eight, with the gifted James Hook replacing injured tyro Rhys Priestland at fly-half. France field the same starting XV which won Le Crunch against England. That means scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili has shaken off a thigh injury, although Morgan Parra will take over the kicking duties.
0826: Let's have a look at those teams then. Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams; James Hook, Mike Phillips; Gethin Jenkins, Huw Bennett, Adam Jones, Luke Charteris, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (capt), Toby Faletau.Replacements: Lloyd Burns, Paul James, Bradley Davies, Ryan Jones, Lloyd Williams, Stephen Jones, Scott Williams.

France: Maxime Medard; Vincent Clerc, Aurelien Rougerie, Maxime Mermoz, Alexis Palisson; Morgan Parra, Dimitri Yachvili; Jean-Baptiste Poux, William Servat, Nicolas Mas, Pascal Pape, Lionel Nallet, Thierry Dusautoir (capt), Julien Bonnaire, Imanol Harinordoquy.

Replacements: Dimitri Szarzewski, Fabien Barcella, Julien Pierre, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Francois Trinh-Duc, Jean-Marc Doussain, Cedric Heymans.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)

Tony in Borrowash, Derby, via text on 81111: "Sitting with wife and daughter. BRAINS shirts and grand slam 2008 scarves... . Bring it on froglets "

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)

PM via text on 81111: "Cmon Wales. Massive game, but feel we can win. Getting parity up front is key. Slightly concerned at Hook at 10 as he has not played there for a while. Hope he proves me wrong. Cymru Am Byth."

0820: Jeremy Guscott knew a thing or two about centre play, and he's full of praise for the impact Wales number 12 Jamie Roberts has made in New Zealand. To calm those pre-match nerves, why not read his full take on how Wales v France is going to go?
Twitter

GreenwoodRugby on Twitter: "I want to be welsh!!"

0813: France may be "afraid", Wales are anything but. "They (the Welsh team) really couldn't care less if France have been in five straight semi-finals or whatever," said defence coach Shaun Edwards. "They are in front of us, so they need sorting out tomorrow."
0808: If form in New Zealand favours Wales, history favours France. They have won eight of the past 10 meetings between the two sides, but France coach Marc Lievremont is insisting that Wales are favourites. "Yes, I am afraid," said Lievremont, who is currently rocking the Riviera playboy look. "Above all I am afraid of the Welsh. Right now we are running on adrenaline. What we need to remember is that we had never beaten England at such a high level. That's something we can take strength from."
Text in your views on 81111 (UK)

RJ, via text on 81111: "Unbelievably nervous, but so excited. Wales CAN do it, but it's gonna be tough. Nothing unites the whole of Wales like the rugby."

0759: If Welsh progress to the last four has been increasingly impressive, the same cannot be said for France. Defeat by New Zealand was followed by one of the biggest shocks in the history of the tournament as Tonga battered Les Bleus into submission. Ah, but this is France - famed not just for their flair but also their inconsistency. In disarray on and off the field, the chances of other side would have been dismissed as they headed into a quarter-final with England, but they duly dredged up a performance from somewhere to reach a fifth consecutive semi-final. They always produce one dazzling performance each World Cup, and we haven't seen it so far in New Zealand… Wales beware.
Twitter

BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce on Twitter: "Strange day in Auckland. Almost everyone wishing it would hurry up and disappear so we can get one with the real business. Tick-tock."

0750: It has been a remarkable tournament for this young Wales side, which features eight players under the age of 23 in the 22-man squad. In the months and years leading up to the World Cup many fans feared they would not even make it out of the group stage. In addition to world champions South Africa, also lying in wait were Fiji, who dumped them out in 2007, and Samoa, their conquerors in both 1991 and 1999. Heroic defeat in the first match awaited against the Boks, but it was a game Wales should have won, and since then the confidence has flowed. Samoa were safely negotiated and Namibia battered before Fiji were blown away. Ireland duly followed in the last eight, and now only France stand between Wales and a first ever World Cup final.
0741: So where are you all watching the game? Whether you're lapping it up in Eden Park, preparing to shout yourself hoarse in the Millennium Stadium, sitting on the sofa with a butty or huddled around a computer in Kathmandu, join in the fun. You can either text on 81111 or Tweet using #bbcrwc.
0735 BST: Welsh legend Neil Jenkins believes it's "maybe the biggest game in Wales' history" and who I am to argue with the russet-haired points machine? What is beyond debate is that it is Wales' biggest World Cup match since the first ever World Cup in 1987, which was the last time they reached the semi-finals. Coincidentally, that tournament featured the same four sides that have reached the last four this time, although back then Wales took on hosts New Zealand at this stage. It was not pretty, as the All Blacks out-gunned the Welsh 49-6 before beating France in the final. Maybe they'll get the change to avenge that defeat in the 2011 final?
0730 BST: Wales v France for a place in the World Cup final. It's probably the biggest game in Welsh rugby history, and if that doesn't get the sporting juices flowing, then I don't know what will. Hold on to you hats lads and lasses, this could get emotional.

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see also
Wales 22-10 Ireland
08 Oct 11 |  Rugby Union
Wales are in-form side - Mealamu
14 Oct 11 |  Rugby Union
France draft in Doussain on bench
14 Oct 11 |  Rugby Union
Wales team are no monks - Gatland
14 Oct 11 |  Welsh
Hook replaces injured Priestland
13 Oct 11 |  Welsh
Meads predicts NZ-Wales Cup final
11 Oct 11 |  Rugby Union
Edwards fears France Cup threat
11 Oct 11 |  Welsh
Jenkins salutes 'best' Wales team
11 Oct 11 |  Welsh
History beckons Wales - Jenkins
10 Oct 11 |  Welsh
Rugby World Cup 2011 team guide
08 Sep 11 |  Rugby Union
Rugby World Cup fixtures and results
26 Sep 11 |  Rugby Union
Rugby World Cup tables
09 Aug 06 |  Tables

related bbc links:

related internet links:
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PENALTY And we’re level. Morgan Parra whips over his first attempt on goal after Wales concede a penalty for the front row collapsing scrum.

We’re more than halfway through the first half.

The Irish may not be there – apart from a certain referee – but as Fergus McFadden told us yesterday, the players are watching.

Sean Cronin tweets: “Tackle was very dodgy but a red, dunno???”

Meanwhile, Wales have won the put-in at the scrum for a French knock-on after some truly heroic defending on their try line. James Hook saw his attempted clearance blocked down prompting some frantic scenes and Ryle Nugent commentary. They survive.

So, I think I may know the answer but let’s see what you think:

What do you think of the decision to dismiss Sam Warburton? Here’s a poll…


Poll Results:

Bit harsh (60)
It was never a red (56)
Deserved dismissal (47)
Don't know, watching cartoons (18)




James Hook needed to nail that penalty attempt. He didn’t.

PENALTY Parra puts Les Bleus ahead. That’s the difference, James Hook. Wales will be happy – if that’s not the wrong word – if they get in at half-time just the three points down.

Elsewhere, Rob Kearney is angry in his jim-jams too:

Hook takes a drop at goal that dribbles behind. He needs to have a talk with himself at half-time.

Statement of the obvious: If Wales are to pull off the greatest comeback since Elvis, they need to tack those points on to the scoreboard.

That’s the first half done. As Ryle Nugents wraps it up neatly: “It’s 3 v 6, but more importantly it’s 14 v 15.”

What’s your verdict on all that?

The ITV panel are unanimous in their outrage at that Roland decision. Flicking back to Donnybrook, things are getting tasty.

Hooky seems to have already had his say but McGurk is getting stuck into Brent Pope and Frankie Sheahan who are appalled at the red.

As the presenter throws to a break, the irritated New Zealander on his panel warns: “don’t try to put words in my mouth”.

We’re up-and-running for the second half in Eden Park. 40 minutes from history.

Oh-oh. ITV’s Martin Bayfield writes: “Rolland’s decision is open to scrutiny but please don’t start attacking his French name or Irish heritage. No need.”

Stephen Jones – the experienced Welsh out half, not the T4 presenter – is on for James Hook at last. There’s 46 minutes on the clock and still only three points in it.

Did Donal Lenihan just say that the ‘psychic energy’ of the stadium is behind Wales?

PENALTY! Daylight. Parra puts six points between the sides with a cool kick, despite the crowd’s jeers ringing in his ears.

The game is over a contest you feel, sadly. For those coming in late (Tony Lynch, crawling in at half-past 10 last night!) here’s the incident that will define this game.

Apologies for the Blair Witch quality of the footage:

Page may need to be refreshed for video clips to embed.

TRY! Mike Philips gets over for Wales

He’s only gone and done it again. Philips got over in the same corner against Ireland seven days ago. This is game on.

Jones missed the conversion, however, as I type. That’s a bad a miss. The French will have to wake up now.

We’re coming up on your 10-minute warning and France have not yet kicked on to leave Wales in the ditch.

There’s a mere point in it but, against a stout Blue defence, Wales are relying on another flash of genius. Who do you fancy from here?

Wales went through phase after phase of possession in front of the French posts but rather than have Stephen Jones drop into the pocket and knock over the drop goal, they ultimately concede a penalty.

Leigh Halfpenny kicks a massive attempt – from halfway down the pitch – on goal, but it’s just under! Just.

Wales win possession. Two minutes to go. One in it.

Time’s up, Wales still have the ball though…

The ball’s been lost, the French kick it out of play, and Wales are out.

What a finish. In the end Wales went through 26 phases but Jones ultimately coughed it up and it was hoofed – like Welsh hopes – to touch.

The referee – rightly or wrongly -  will now face into a storm of criticism. And you can be sure, his tournament is now over too. Alain Rolland officiated the decider four years ago in St Denis. He won’t do the same next week I’d wager.

Paraphrasing, Warren Gatland:#

“Why spoil a semi-final by giving a red card. Is it a red every time you lift a player now? I feel personally let down bvecause this team are good enough to get to the final. But that result wasn’t in our control in the end.”

So, as Anne Doyle, says… there we leave it. For better or worse, France will line out tomorrow week in the World Cup final. Wales go home.

The debate will no doubt continue about that red card but perhaps too missed chances and opportunities by Jones and Hook.

Keep your comments coming and join us tomorrow for the meeting of, you know, just Australia and New Zealand.

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