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Last Updated: Friday, 31 October, 2003, 11:40 GMT
Hodges praises Eagles
USA captain Dave Hodges
Hodges was impressed by France's pedigree
USA captain Dave Hodges was full of praise for his players despite them ending the World Cup with a 41-14 defeat to France.

The Eagles looked second best in the opening 40 minutes but impressed during the second half, only losing it 15-14.

And Hodges said: "We came out fairly well in the second half and I'm just proud of the effort the guys put in through the last 80 minutes.

"I suppose France were sitting back a little but it's only natural when you are up a little bit."

Mike Hercus had another impressive display at fly-half, scoring a try and two conversions, while flanker Kort Schubert scored the Eagles' other try.

France ran in a total of five tries, with Hodges' rival captain Yannick Bru and Jean-Baptiste Poux getting one apiece and Brian Liebenberg a hat-trick.

And Hodges tipped the French, who had been sporting a second-string side, for greater things in the tournament.

He said: "France are a class act and I think they'll go very far in the tournament. I think they are very skillful and they play with a lot of pace.

"I reckon, the way they're playing right now, and that was their second team playing the same way, I reckon they can go all the way to the final."

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