Talking points from the quarter-finals

WALES DESERVE A GOOD LIE-DOWN

Rugby World Cups can hurt but Wales already knew that. Their list of injuries, funnily enough, was a cushion that makes their exit less painful.

In contrast, England and France are about to undergo vivisection without anaesthetic.

REBUILT SOUTH AFRICA MUST FIND ROOM FOR FLAIR

They began the World Cup like flash geezers in a customised coupe, only to be mugged by the Japanese.

They then threw the chrome on the junk heap and rebuilt themselves as a tractor, ploughing for victory.

But there is room for a little glitter on the hard road to redemption - and to give Bryan Habana a pass or two.

NZ'S BRILLIANCE CAN BE WATCHED ONLY WITH AWE

The only point worth talking about was: When could anyone remember the All Blacks so comprehensively take apart a quality team like France for most of the 80 minutes?

This was brilliant rugby almost from start to finish.

FRANCE LEAVE WITH TAILS BETWEEN THEIR LEGS

The public disintegration of a once-great rugby team was not a pretty sight. They began in hope and ended in despair, crushed underfoot by one of the most awesome All Blacks performances in decades.

The French will come back and might even reclaim old glories. But this was a sad way to leave the tournament.

STARS ABSENT, BUT IRELAND WERE OUTPLAYED

Their chances were affected quite a lot by losing four star players to injuries, but it would be cruel to lay the blame for defeat on the shoulders of their replacements.

They were outplayed at the start and the finish, coming to life only either side of half-time.

FEROCIOUS PUMAS CAN'T BE IGNORED ANY LONGER

What a statement the underrated Argentina made by advancing to the semi-finals for the second time in eight years: They played some wonderful rugby against Ireland. They will no longer be ignored.

When they play Australia at Twickenham on Sunday, people might like to listen to the core message of their national song: with strong arms they tear to pieces the arrogant Iberian lion. Or maybe a kangaroo or two.

AUSTRALIA MISSED POCOCK AT THE BREAKDOWN

Australia scrambled through to a semi-final against Argentina, a team they have beaten 10 times in their last 11 games. If they are going to make it 11 in 12, they need David Pocock to recover from the calf injury that kept him out of the Scotland game.

His replacement Ben McCalman is a fine player in the loose but without Pocock, they simply did not have the same control at the breakdown.

SCOTLAND CAN END THEIR SIX NATIONS DROUGHT

For Scotland, the obvious question will be whether they can press on and play this way again in next year's Six Nations.

If they can produce more performances like the 34-35 loss to Australia, they will be genuine contenders for the title, which they last won in 1999.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2015, with the headline 'Talking points from the quarter-finals'. Print Edition | Subscribe