Shane Williams paid tribute to the performance of France fly-half Morgan Parra after being denied a World Cup final swansong to his international career.
Wales played for almost an hour of their 9-8 semi-final loss to Les Bleus at Eden Park with 14 men after skipper Sam Warburton was sent off for lifting Vincent Clerc in the tackle.
Parra's third successful penalty put France 9-3 to the good and though Mike Phillips' solo try brought Wales within a point, Stephen Jones' conversion hit the post and Leigh Halfpenny's 50-metre penalty then fell just short.
"Any game you play for your country, you give it your all and want to play your best," said 89-cap veteran wing Williams, who will retire from international rugby after the third-place play-off.
"We'd love to go home with a third place. Coming to the end of my career it'll probably be an emotional time.
"There's no bitterness, the side who played the best today won. We knew the France team turning up today would be a good France team - Parra at 10 had a great game, he bossed things. We wish them all the best in the final.
"We're absolutely devastated, we worked hard getting through the group and it was a great performance last week."
Centre Jamie Roberts, who joined the scrum at times in flanker Warburton's absence, was proud of Wales' efforts.
"To play with 14 men for so long, we can take lot of pride, it was a performance everybody back home can be proud of but it's heartbreaking," he said.
"With 14 men you have to close the game up a bit, we went for a kick-chase game and it paid dividends really. We had a couple of opportunities to win the game and unfortunately Stephen hit the post and Leigh was half a metre short with a kick from the halfway line
"We train a lot with 14 men, we defended for our lives out there and it just wasn't to be."
Prop Gethin Jenkins conceded it had been hard work after Warburton's controversial dismissal.
"It was always going to be tough with the sending-off but we gave it our all right to the end. It's just disappointing," said Jenkins.
"It changed the game a bit, we had to play a different style but fair play to the French, they held us out.
"We'll work on what went wrong, we've got a young side for the future."