The Americans will face a massive jump in class when they take on Australia in the World Cup quarter-finals. Credit: SWpix.com Copyright: SWpix.com
The 2013 Rugby League World Cup group stage has been completed, with eight nations advancing to the quarter-finals and six others bowing out. Here is how things look going into this week's quarter-finals.
Australia go through undefeated with a points differential of +90 to easily top the group, with England taking second spot as expected. Fiji's win over Ireland was enough to take them through in third place, with the Irish beaten by a combined 92-0 in their final two matches against England and Australia.
New Zealand are the highest-scoring team of the tournament so far, averaging almost 50 points a game thanks to big wins over France and Papua New Guinea. Samoa – who at least tested the Kiwis on the way to a 42-24 defeat – have taken second place after beating France in their final group match, with the French taking the third qualifying spot ahead of the luckless Papua New Guinea who lost all three of their matches.
In the closest-fought group of the tournament, Scotland pipped Tonga by two points, drew with Italy, and managed to knock both highly-fancied teams out of the World Cup. Their win over the USA made them the only undefeated team of the group, with Tonga recovering from their first-up defeat to beat the Cook Islands and then Italy, who suddenly dropped from first in the group to last.
The Welsh were arguably the flop of the World Cup, losing their three matches against Italy, the USA and the Cook Islands. The Americans were the first team in the tournament to book their passage to the knockout stage after beating both their group rivals, while the Cooks ended their campaign on a high with a 28-24 win over Wales.
Reigning champions New Zealand will start warm favourites against plucky Scotland, Australia should continue their charge towards the final with a win over the USA, England will take on the unconvincing French and Fiji take on Pacific Islands rivals Samoa.
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