On 49 minutes, France led 19-10 thanks to a blistering opening half that saw Vahaamahina, Charles Ollivon and Virimi Vakatawa score three first half tries. Aaron Wainwright dotted down for Wales in the first period but there was a clear gulf between the sides at the Oita Stadiium.
That was until Vahaamahina grabbed Wainwright around the neck before elbowing him in the face. South African referee Jaco Peyper had no hesitation in brandishing the red card.
Wales rallied and reduced the deficit with a Dan Bigger penalty before the hour mark. Then, just six minutes from time, Ross Moriarty scored a scrappy try to see Wales take the lead for the first time in the match and grant his nation passage to the World Cup semifinals for the third time in history.
More to follow