Wales coach Steve Hansen was a mass of conflicting emotions after seeing his side give England a huge scare before losing 28-17 in Brisbane.
The World Cup favourites trailed Wales at half-time but took a grip in the second half as the boot of fly-half Jonny Wilkinson guided them to a semi-final showdown with France.
"We're gutted we couldn't get up but we've come a long way and I can't say any more than that," Hansen said.
Wales outscored England by three tries to one and will take huge pride in their performance, but it was still a hard exit from the World Cup.
"We came here to win it, we threw everything at them and they showed why they're a good side - they took that and in the end held on for the win," Hansen added.
"Both teams came to play and there was some outstanding rugby played - judging by the reaction the crowd has just given the team they certainly enjoyed it.
"We just couldn't get any ball in the second half and we kept getting penalised and that took away our momentum.
"Jonny (Wilkinson) kept popping the penalty kicks over as he does and in the end that's what broke the camel's back.
"But the team hung in there and kept trying, and I think it was a great effort."
Wales skipper Colin Charvis, who scored one of his side's tries, was sorry to be leaving the World Cup but believes there is great hope for the future of Welsh rugby.
"We've raised our performances week-by-week but this was one hurdle we couldn't get over and the guys are very disappointed with the result," Charvis said.
"We thought we had a good chance - especially going in at half-time - but unfortunately England were a bit too strong for us.
"The players went out with the attitude that we had nothing to lose, we should be bold and take them on but we just couldn't continue it in the second half.
"I think the guys will be very proud of what they've achieved over the last four or five weeks, but unfortunately we're out and we're on our way home after working so hard.
"But we've got a Six Nations tournament to look forward to and a lot of the guys who performed over the last few weeks will be around for quite a long time.
"You've got to wish them a hell of a lot of luck because if they keep working then hopefully in a few year's time they'll be a great team."