Wales battled valiantly after skipper Sam Warburton was sent off but came up agonisingly short in their World Cup quarterfinal against France in Auckland on Saturday.
Warburton was given his marching orders for a dangerous tip tackle and from that point on his team was on the back foot.
France enjoyed a healthy advantage in the scrums and Wales sorely missed their captain’s presence at the breakdown which has been a big part of their game at the World Cup.
To their credit the Welsh players rallied well and took the game right down to the wire by producing a determined effort and refusing to let the French over their tryline despite their set-piece dominance.
We rate the Wales players:
15 Leigh Halfpenny:
Wales' best player, he was composed at the back and nearly won the game for his side but his long range penalty came up just short. He positions himself very well and was solid under the high ball.
14 George North:
Looked threatening as Wales tried to get him as much ball as possible early on. Came off his wing and got involved, hitting some space and making some important tackles.
13 Jonathan Davies:
Fairly anonymous performance, he was shut down quite well by the French backline when he did get an opportunity and threw a few loose passes.
12 Jamie Roberts:
Straightened the line well as ever and bashed his way over the gain line. Found himself packing down on the side of the scrum and confronted French defenders all night showing how incredibly strong he is on his feet.
11 Shane Williams:
Linked well with his teammates and showed good distribution skills. Did not get the ball in space enough for his quick feet and explosive pace to be a factor.
10 James Hook:
An erratic display which saw him whisked off early in the second half as Wales looked to tighten things up. A mixture of booming punts, quick hands, some poor kicking out of hand and dodgy option-taking.
9 Mike Phillips:
Mixed it up well, provided decent service although he did tend to hesitate before clearing the ball, but his kicking was not on point and often too deep. Used his strength well to burst through a gap on the blindside as he went over for the only try of the game.
8 Toby Faletau:
Attacked the gain line well and did his best to keep the ball alive. Chased hard and tackled with determination. He also did quite well to get the ball away with his scrum going backwards and made some storming runs but his hands let him down at times.
7 Sam Warburton (captain):
Made one or two positive contributions before being sent from the field for a vicious tip tackle which was the defining moment of the game.
6 Dan Lydiate:
Battled whole-heartedly under his increased workload and was penalised at the breakdown but it was a brave effort under pressure.
5 Alun-Wyn Jones:
A hard-working effort, started well in the line-outs before the French started competing, and was solid at the restarts. Also showed good hands in open play and tackled well.
4 Luke Charteris:
Came off the line hard on defence and used his height put the French line-out under pressure early on. Showed plenty of heart but was fighting a losing set-piece battle.
3 Adam Jones:
Had little opportunity to make an impression before his evening was cut short through injury in what was the first serious blow for Wales. Not enough time to be rated.
2 Huw Bennett:
Bashed it up hard and tackled with ferocity but battled to find his jumpers in the line-out in a disappointing performance.
1 Gethin Jenkins:
Got the better of Mas in the early scrum engagements but was put under serious pressure after Jones left and Warburton was sent off. Showed up well in open play but was playing off the back foot for most of the match.
16 Lloyd Burns: Not used
17 Paul James (On for Adam Jones 10 mins):
On a bit of a hiding to nothing and battled under pressure at scrum-time. Penalised for collapsing a maul and struggled to assert himself.
18 Bradley Davies (On for Alun Wyn-Jones 61 mins):
Carried the ball up hard and showed good commitment on defence. Fought hard until the end and can be satisfied with his contribution.
19 Ryan Jones (On for Dan Lydiate 55 mins):
Brought some good intensity and physicality onto the field with him but tended to try and do everything himself and got isolated on occasion.
20 Lloyd Williams: Not used
21 Stephen Jones (On for James Hook 46 mins):
Brought his trademark kicking game and forced France to play in their own half but he could not provide the spark required to test their defensive system. He missed a crucial conversion which could have clinched victory but kept his team in the contest with his accurate boot.
22 Scott Williams: Not used.
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