16 Oct 2011

Sending off mars first World Cup semi-final

5:06 am on 16 October 2011

Wales are blaming their narrow World Cup semi-final defeat to France on the decision to send off inspirational skipper Sam Warburton at Eden Park.

The stand-in Welsh captain Gethin Jenkins and coach Warren Gatland laid the blame for their 9-8 defeat to a lacklustre Les Bleus on Warburton's dismissal after 18 minutes for a tip tackle on wing Vincent Clerc.

Gatland says Warburton is not a dirty player so what was the point in spoiling a semi-final by giving him a red card.

But the former All Black says his Welsh showed great character and if they'd have slotted a goal might have won the game.

France captain Thierry Dusautoir admitted his side had not been at their best, saying they won thanks to their defence and didn't play rugby so well but played with heart. the dismissal of the 23-year-old flanker Warburton Wales, playing their first semi-final for 24 years, were in command, despite the earlier loss through injury of veteran prop Adam Jones, and well worth their three-point lead.

But after their skipper's departure they were unable to halt the march of the French, who slowly built an unassailable lead through the boot of Morgan Parra.

Although a try on the hour by halfback Mike Phillips gave Wales hope, France, playing their fifth successive semi-final, were able to withstand a spirited fightback.