Israel Folau in action in Australia's group win over Wales.
Israel Folau in action in Australia's group win over Wales. GETTY IMAGES

What next as we look to last-eight rugby World Cup battle

WITH the preliminaries out of the way, the World Cup now gets serious.

England aside, the best eight teams have won through to the quarter-finals to be held in London and Cardiff this weekend.

Scotland, the only team outside the top eight in the world rankings, snuck in to the knockout stage, but have been installed as the rank outsiders at $151 to lift the William Webb Ellis trophy.

At the other end of the market, the All Blacks are not surprisingly the $2.10 favourites to defend the title they won in

New Zealand four years ago, with Australia not far behind at $3.10.

After recovering from a shock first-round loss to Japan to finish on top of Pool B, South Africa is rated a $7.50

chance to go all the way, with Ireland next at $9.
Argentina and Wales (both $26), France ($34) and Scotland are given little to no chance of winning their next games after finishing runners-up in their pools.

With 40 games done and dusted, it's time to look at what we learned from the pool games, and what we can expect from here.

ENGLAND: Three into two in the 'Pool of Death' just didn't go, and unfortunately for England it was the team to miss out, the first time a host nation has been eliminated in the pool stage.

Most of the blame so far has been directed at coach Stuart Lancaster for selecting inexperienced players and sticking to a conservative game plan.

While plenty of critics have called for his head, Lancaster seems determined to hang around, pointing to the 60-3 demolition of Uruguay as a indication of what might be to come.

He may not get the choice, however.

JAPAN: The real surprise packets of the tournament under former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones.

Having never won a World Cup game, the Brave Blossoms became the first team to win three games in the Pool stage and not progress to the quarter-finals.

With Japan to host the 2019 World Cup, Jones said the performances at this tournament had "changed the whole image of Japanese rugby".

"These guys are heroes now, and when you have heroes, you want to emulate them. That's what sport can do," he said.

ALL BLACKS: Having drawn the weakest Pool, it was no surprise to see the defending champions go through unbeaten.

They clearly haven't been at their top, however, and now face bogey team France.
French captain Thierry Dusatoir, who scored a try in his team's famous quarter-final victory over the All Blacks at the Millennium Stadium eight years ago, just as he did in the 8-7 loss in the final at Eden Park four years ago, said odds meant nothing.

"I have played 11 or 12 times against the All Blacks and not once was I in the favourites, but that did not stop France from beating them," he said.

AUSTRALIA: If the Wallabies are to be the first team to win three World Cups, the yellow brick wall that proved impenetrable against Wales will have to stand up three more times.

Having finished on top of Pool A, Australia has avoided South Arica and New Zaland, and a win against Scotland would see Michael Cheika's men took on the winner of Ireland and Argentina for a place in the final.

Cheika has refused to carried away, or accept the team was in the easiest half of the draw.

"We've lost to the Scots a couple of times in recent years, maybe because we thought it would be easy," he warned. "We won't be thinking that this week.

"There is no favourable side of the draw. The only favour is that you're still there, still in it."

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