Rugby World Cup 2011: Wales 'thought about' drop-goal, says Jones

Stephen Jones
Stephen Jones has won 103 caps for Wales

Fly-half Stephen Jones says France kept Wales out of range of a drop-goal attempt during the dying minutes of their World Cup semi-final defeat.

Wales, who had captain Sam Warburton sent off during the first half, were trailing 9-8 at the time.

But Jones says France made it hard for Wales to have a last-ditch attempt on goal to win the match.

"It was definitely in our thoughts. I was thinking [about] it," said Jones.

"I would have liked to have got a little bit closer just to make sure there was an option there.

"But France are smart, they must have said they weren't going to fight the contact area. They were just going to flood the front line.

"One guy would make the tackle and everybody wouldn't contest the ball and they would wait for us to relaunch another attack.

"Of course it was very hard to get going because they knew what we were trying to do. They nullified our threat."

Jones replaced starting fly-half James Hook six minutes after the break with Wales having been reduced to 14 men in the 19th minute when skipper Sam Warburton was sent off following a dangerous tackle on Vincent Clerc.

Sam Warburton

Record cap holder Jones said he was "gutted" with Alain Rolland's decision and had sympathy with his skipper.

"[I'm] obviously disappointed for Sam," added Jones.

"He has been fantastic and has led us so well as a captain.

"His performances on the pitch have been top-drawer and it was disappointing losing him so early in the game.

"It was always going to be difficult when you lose one player because your sequences and your patterns change, but I thought we adapted pretty well."

And, although admitting Warburton's sending-off was a pivotal moment in the match, Jones added missed chances proved costly.

James Hook and Leigh Halfpenny missed crucial penalties, while Jones himself failed to convert Mike Phillips's try.

"We created enough opportunities, we had shots at goal, we worked them well as a side," said the Scarlets player.

"As soon as they got the lead they weren't too keen on playing in their own half.

"They wanted to kick the ball down our half and just try to put pressure on us.

Warren Gatland

"The way our forwards played in that second half was top-drawer.

"To work as they did in open play and to still give a platform to try and have a go at them was amazing.

"We've worked particularly hard as a squad, [put in] a huge amount of effort into this tournament and it's bitterly disappointing to have lost in the manner which we did."

Jones does not consider Friday's third-place play-off match to be a meaningless fixture.

Wales will be attempting to emulate the team of 1987, who finished third in the inaugural competition following victory over Australia.

"We're a very proud group and we're put a lot of effort in. We would like to finish as high as we can," he said.

Top Stories