Wales captain Craig Kopczak believes there were plenty of positives to draw from his side's 20-6 defeat to France in Lens.
The Welsh threatened to spring an upset when full-back David James scored an early try but they were undone by an 18-point scoring burst inspired by man of the match Thomas Bosc just before half-time. Kopczak's men will now need to beat tournament favourites England in Wrexham next Saturday to keep alive their hopes of reaching the November 11 final in Salford.
"You saw a lot of characters out there today," Kopczak told BBC2. "I thought we battled hard. We knew it was going to be tough and we're just a bit disappointed (with our performance) at the back of the first half, when we gave them too much possession and they scored the tries on the back of it."
He added: "We came out in the second half half and put real pride in our shirts.
"We'll be working on our defence and trying to keep hold of the ball and hopefully we can rectify that for next week. It was a massive occasion here and we can take this experience into the England game."
France missed two clear-cut chances before eventually running in quickfire tries through Cyril Stacul, Romaric Bemba and Bosc to establish an 18-6 interval lead, but their only score of the second half was a penalty from Bosc, to add to his three conversions.
Wales had prop Gil Dudson sin-binned for a late tackle on William Barthau that sparked a free-for-all, and France captain Olivier Elima admitted his side had been in a physical battle.
"Wales had a big, strong pack who were coming down the middle and it took us 10 or 15 minutes to get into the game," Elima said. "Once we got into the game we knew we would create opportunities. We managed to score three tries in the last five or 10 minutes and we knew we could do better in the second half.
"There were still plenty of errors but we're happy about the game. Wales were confident and they made plenty of comments before the game. We used those comments in the changing room and we came out firing.
"We knew it was going to be a hard game but we're pleased with our defence, to concede just one try."