World Cup: Five (newer) things we've learnt
1. The emerging nations have emerged
The fun thing to do at these global get-togethers is point the finger at the hosts for not providing enough sun, or for having too many warm refreshments. But when the life of the party has been the unlikely ones – like first-time visitors USA and Italy – then we guess at some point someone's got to raise a glass to the people organising the damn thing. Sure, the regulars might be the ones who'll last the night, but for every person who's enjoyed a USA, Italian or Scottish victory up to this point, it's another tick in the box for a tournament which often doesn't get fun until the final three games.
2. Daly Cherry-Evans has emerged
It's not often a coach's hand is forced by the whiff of a Man of the Match medal, but the pressure is on Tim Sheens to pick Daly Cherry-Evans on the bench for the Kangaroos' quarter-final against the USA after the halfback's stunning performance against Ireland. Hey, you wanted to give them all some time with the pill, and what you got was a headache. This is the business end now, don't screw it up.
3. Sam Burgess will emerge
In case you haven't heard, Sam Burgess is a headcase. It's true, we read it in The Daily Telegraph. But while it's been fun getting up to pace with how much the Rabbitoh may or may not hate his fellow countryman in James Graham, we were shown plenty of evidence in their match against Fiji that the aggressive forward means as much to England as James Anderson. You won't find many stat lines from a forward better that this one Burgess put together against the ageless Petero Civoniceva and Fiji: 182 metres, eight tackle breaks, four offloads, three line breaks and a try.
4. Tonga won't emerge
We can't let the stragglers leave the party without a souvenir, can we? Now, officially, host nation Wales walked away with the wooden spoon, having not won a game all tournament. And while the locals have every right to be all up in arms about their Super League-flavoured failure, we can't exactly let the Tongans, those of the 1122-games of NRL experience persuasion, slip by without any kind of Sam Burgess-like treatment. The NRL has been blessed with the talent coming out of the pacific island nation, and it's just a shame we won't see them in the knockout stages.
5. Halves win games, and World Cups
It'd be unfair of us to point out the significance of what the names Thurston, Cronk, Foran, Johnson, Chase and Sinfield mean to their nations, but when you look at the wealth of talent displayed by countries not named Australia, England or New Zealand, you realise there's a common missing ingredient among the lot: a real class halfback. One might make an exception for Scotland's Man of Steel Danny Brough (and Scotland have surprised a few by advancing to the quarters), but unfortunately, that's pretty much where it ends. As the old saying goes, 'You can't win a grand final without a good halfback'. Well, you can certainly apply it to World Cups too.