Both head coach Jones and skipper Ryan Woodman were full of praise for the clinical French, who played 60 minutes with 14 men and the final six with 13.
“The scoreboard wasn’t a fair reflection on how far this team has come. We should have come away with a bonus point and that’s disappointing,” admitted Jones.
“We believed we could win, but when you have 60% of the scrums and 60% of the line-outs, you make 10 line-breaks and you get into their 22 four times in the first 20 minutes and you don’t convert, you make it pretty hard for yourself.
“We needed to get out of the blocks well, get some positive mentality into our performance, but unfortunately we were really inaccurate early on. When you let France off the hook, they have players who can punish you.
“The interception was a big moment from a confidence and momentum point of view. But even after that we had a lot of overlaps, we didn’t nail our passing and we were very inaccurate with our finishing.
“We created an awful lot and credit to the lads for that, but top-level sport is about taking your opportunities, not creating them.”
It was the second defeat in three pool games for Woodman’s side and they will now fight it out for fifth place. Their semi-final on Sunday will be against Georgia, who are guaranteed their highest finish at the tournament.
“They kept the ball alive very well when they had it and they were very hard to stop. We made a lot of mistakes and they captialised on every one of them – they were just more clinical,” said Woodman.
“We’re a bit frustrated we didn’t get the bonus point at the end after coming close a number of times. We didn’t make the most of a number of our chances and we gave them too many.
“After the Six Nations it was important to show what we can do as a team. That wasn’t our best game.
“We dug in but the result didn’t go our way. I can’t fault the effort and I think we’ve showed we are better team now than we were at the Six Nations.”
Jones and his coaching staff will now have to get their team ready for a massive match against the vastly improved Georgians, who managed to ‘nil’ Argentina and beat the Italian team that had won against South Africa. The winners will face either New Zealand or Australia in the 5th place final.
“They didn’t put their best performance out there against France and I’m disappointed for the lads. They tried their best, they just didn’t nail their best performance and now we have to dust ourselves off and get on with the next game,” said Jones.
“We’ve shown that we are a very capable team when we get things right, but there was way too much inconsistency around our set-piece and our skill set. I was disappointed in the level of our accuracy.
“We didn’t make the most of line-breaks and opportunities to dig into their territory. Instead, we just coughed up possession way too easily and let them off the hook.
“France dominated the scoreboard, but in terms of opportunities, territory and field position it was strong from us. 60% territory and 55% possession. We were way too loose.”