IT was a case of so near and yet so far as Les Bleus put up a spirited fight against New Zealand on Saturday before going down for their eighth consecutive defeat against the mighty All Blacks.
World champions New Zealand won 26-19, their 12th victory in as many games this year, but France manager Philippe Saint-Andre insisted the result at the Stade de France could easily have been different.
"The players are sad because we had all the ingredients for a victory but we lacked accuracy, especially in the first half when we should have been ahead," Saint-Andre said.
Instead, France, who have lost seven of their nine games in 2013, were locked at 9-9 at half-time despite some nice attacking moves.
After the break, New Zealand scored a couple of tries through Charles Piutau and Kieran Read to open up a 14-point lead, with Brice Dulin's late score setting up a tense finale.
France, who had been dominant in the scrum, were penalised on the last set piece and left the pitch frustrated.
"We have courage and desire, but it's the little details that make the difference," said Saint-Andre. "We were good in the scrum, apart from the last one, when we're penalised."
France have not beaten New Zealand since prevailing 27-22 in Dunedin in 2009, having to deal with the 30-0 whitewash last June followed by a more respectable 24-9.
This year's other defeat against the world champions was a 23-13 reverse in the first of three June Tests.
Saturday's defeat was no exception. France played some decent rugby, but failed to cash in on the opportunities that came their way.