Welsh memories of semi-final heartbreak will be 'great fuel' against France

Coach says traumatic semi-final defeat in Auckland can be inspiration for last-eight clash with Les Bleus.

OITA, 15 Oct - Attack coach Stephen Jones says Wales will use the memories of their heartbreaking 2011 World Cup semi-final defeat by France as fuel for Sunday's revenge mission.

Wales went down fighting in Auckland, losing 9-8 despite having played for just over an hour with 14 men after captain Sam Warburton was sent off, above.

Four of the players who started that game are in the squad for this weekend's quarter-final clash with France at Oita Stadium, while Jones himself came on as a replacement eight years ago.

"It’s great fuel to drive you forward to achieve your goals," said Jones, whose conversion attempt that could have put Wales ahead in the second-half in Auckland hit a post.

"It was a tight game. Even when we were down to 14 we battled hard and it still could have gone either way. We had gathered a lot of momentum in that World Cup, and we were in a good place.

"It is unfortunate we lost the game and in the manner which we did. There were some wonderful experiences of that 2011 World Cup. Yes, it was disappointing, but that's sport.

"This is a different group of players, some were involved that day but the vast majority weren't. You look at the recent games against France and the boys have had some good success."

Wales have won seven of their past eight games against France, including coming back from 16-0 down at half-time to win in Paris in February on their way to a third Grand Slam under head coach Warren Gatland.

"We will look back on that match," Jones said of the comeback victory. "It is important we learn lessons from that match.

"The positives are that we stayed in the fight and got back and won that game, but yes, we've definitely taken some lessons on board from that first-half."

Wales go into the game knowing defeat would end Gatland's reign as coach, with the New Zealander set to leave his role at the end of this tournament after 12 successful years.

Scrum-half Gareth Davies said: "We all knew this was going to be Gats's last tournament in charge of us and we do speak about it every now and then.

"Alun Wyn (Jones) is a great captain and he speaks very well. I'm sure he will mention the fact it could be Gats's last game. Hopefully it's not.

"We will have that in the back of our mind and it will give us a couple of extra per cent to come away with a good victory."

RNS ig/sg/rl/bo