Wales full-back Halfpenny stepped up five minutes from time to attempt a long-range kick amid the seething cauldron of a controversial semi-final against France at Eden Park.
But his 50-metre strike for glory dipped inches under the bar, and Wales were left to painfully reflect on a World Cup exit they hardly deserved after their captain Sam Warburton was sent off and powerhouse prop Adam Jones departed injured inside the opening 18 minutes.
"I thought the kick was there," said Halfpenny, whose distraught features mirrored a Wales team that threw everything at the French with 14 men for more than an hour.
"I did not hit it quite properly, but I still thought it was going over.
"It was not the best strike, but it was on target and I will have to look at the video again to see how close it was.
"I have put a lot of work into my kicking over the years, and it all came down to that moment. It was not to be and it was massively disappointing.
"It kills me talking about it."
The 22-year-old Cardiff Blues star has been an outstanding contributor to Wales' World Cup cause, and a demoralising 9-8 defeat left Halfpenny and company contemplating a bronze medal match before they go home, rather than a final.
Wales are guaranteed their most successful World Cup since the inaugural tournament 24 years ago, but it will be of little comfort to a squad that has lost two games in New Zealand - both by a point - against France and South Africa.
"You cannot fault the effort of the boys. Everyone gave everything," Halfpenny added. "It was an outstanding effort, but it was not to be our day.
"We are massively disappointed at going out. We believed we could come here and win and be in the final. We believed that from the very beginning.
"From all the hard work and everything, I can honestly tell you that the boys have given absolutely everything we possibly could have done in terms of preparation.
"In every game the boys have given their absolute all and this is just so massively disappointing, but all credit to France. They knew how to win, and they did so."
Halfpenny also paid a glowing tribute to Warburton, one of the tournament's stand-out performers, who was dismissed by Irish referee Alain Rolland for a dangerous tip tackle on France wing Vincent Clerc.
"A yellow card would have sufficed for Sam, and it would have helped the game a bit," he said.
"We were massively disappointed to see Sam go because he has been phenomenal for us. He has been an absolute credit to us and to Wales.
"I cannot speak highly enough of the guy. He has been immense for us, and it was hugely disappointing to see him leaving the field."
Wales must now somehow pick themselves up for the so-called consolation final, yet the future is bright after coach Warren Gatland's matchday squad yesterday included eight players aged 23 or under.
"We have to look forward," Halfpenny added.
"The experience the youngsters will have gained from this has been immense, and I am sure it will help them in the future when they are in another situation like it.
"We got this far with a young side. I am sure this experience will make every single one of us stronger.
"We can go back home and be proud to be Welsh, and in four years' time (at England 2015) I hope we can go one step further.
"Warren said he was massively proud of us and could not have asked for more from us. We have given our all, and to be semi-finalists is incredible. We were so close to the final.
"It is a hard pill to swallow, but the experience will be invaluable to a young squad and it will help us massively in the future."
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