World Cup Quarter-Finals: Five things we learned

(Image credit - englandrl.co.uk)

There were quite a few fantastic happenings in the quarter-finals of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup at the weekend.

EVERYONE ENVIES AUSTRALIA

It is so hard not to admire Australia. They battered Samoa 46-0 as they provided us with such a dominant and organised display on Friday. Valentine Holmes became the first ever player to score five tries in a World Cup tournament as well. He didn’t put a foot wrong.

They play with such class but their best trait has just got to be organisation. Every play they do is organised two plays ahead and credit must go to the likes of Cooper Cronk, Michael Morgan, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater for that. They know how each other work and they are very well structured in both attack and defence. They are the team to beat.

SAMOA SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN IN THE QUARTER-FINALS

Nobody was expecting Samoa to beat Australia, nobody. But the performance they put in was nothing short of being abysmal. They didn’t do anything in attack, there wasn’t many occasions of when they challenged the Kangaroos and in defence, they were all over the place.

They reached the quarter-finals without even winning a game. How does that even work? Take the football World Cup for example, would you ever see a team progress the groups with just one point from three games? No. But Ireland on the other hand, won two games out of three but didn’t go through because only the top team in Group C could progress. The system needs looking at because Samoa didn’t deserve to be there in the first play, whereas Ireland did, and their performance against Australia proved that.

LEBANON ARE A VERY UNDERRATED TEAM

Ahead of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup kicking-off, a lot of people were unsure of what to expect from them because it was the first World Cup they had competed in since 2000. They were expected to be the whipping boys of Group A but they proved the doubters wrong.

A man of the match display from Mitchell Moses inspired them to victory over France while they put in good efforts against England and Australia. They ran Tonga close in the quarter-final, losing only 24-22 on Saturday. The Cedars play some really exciting rugby under Brad Fittler and have been a real success story of this World Cup.

FIJI ARE REAL CONTENDERS

In this feature on Round 2 for Loverugbyleague.com, writer Drew Darbyshire said that Fiji should be talked about in the same regard as Tonga and this proved to be the case as the Bati became the second Tier Two nation to beat Tier One side New Zealand in as many weeks at the weekend.

Fiji have gone under the radar in the tournament so far but have scored more points than any other team in the competition. They have the top try-scorer in winger Suliasi Vunivalu with eight to his name as well. Tonga and Fiji have strengths in different areas but the Bati didn’t concede a single try against the Kiwis while the Mate Ma’a let in four. Fiji face Australia next week but there is no reason why Fiji can’t go all of the way. They’ve been excellent.

ENGLAND SHOWING PROMISING SIGNS

Wayne Bennett’s England outfit eased past Papua New Guinea 36-6 on Sunday to reach the semi-finals but the Three Lions received very contrasting views from supporters on social media. Some very really positive about the result but others dished out a lot of stick.

Warning: Click off the article now if you don’t want to hear the positive stuff. I thought England showed a lot of promising signs throughout the game. What I don’t get as well is how Papua New Guinea have gained so much respect and credit throughout the tournament and then when England beat them by 30 points, people are saying ‘it was only Papua New Guinea though’. I don’t get it.

Fair enough, it wasn’t the best performance we’ll ever see from England, but we got the job done. We made a lot of errors but we also scored 36 points, which is a sign of a champion side. If England can cut the errors down then they are certainly good enough to win it.

What did you think of the quarter-finals? Did anything stand-out to you? Let us know in the comments below.

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