Ireland overcame familiar Six Nations’ foes France by 24-9 over the weekend, thereby avoiding the formidable All Blacks in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup. It was not without cost though, as they lost inspirational players Johnny Sexton and Paul O’Connell to injury during the match. Their opponents in the last-eight will instead be the Diego Maradona-backed Argentinians who thrashed Namibia 64-19 to complete their Pool C fixtures.

France 9 – 24 Ireland

Roared on by the wall of noise generated by their colourful and devoted fans in the Millennium Stadium, the Irish were generally in control throughout against the French.

A narrow 9-6 half-time advantage was extended after the break as Ireland crossed Les Bleus’ line twice, Rob Kearney and Conor Murray being the try scorers.

Although the replacements from the bench proved up to the immediate task at hand on the day, there will no doubt be fears about the potential losses of both Sexton and O’Connell for the later stages of the tournament. Sexton succumbed to a suspected groin injury, while one wonders if O’Connell has made his last appearance in his national colours after being carried off as the first-half wound down. There was also the worrying sight of Peter O’Mahony leaving the field on a stretcher for the Irish in the second period.

Ian Madigan picked up the kicking duties after Sexton’s injury, slotting over two penalties and a conversion to add to earlier successes by the number one fly-half.

In reply France could only muster three penalties and will now have to improve significantly to challenge New Zealand if they hope to progress further in the competition.

Scotland squeeze past Samoa

Scotland were made to sweat in their final Pool B match against Samoa on Saturday, before clinching a nerve-jangling 36-33 victory.

The Samoans outscored their opponents by four tries to three, but the greater accuracy from Scottish kicker Greig Laidlaw ultimately proved the difference on the scoreboard. The Gloucester scrum-half added five successful penalties to his three conversions.

Australia use strong defence to beat Welsh

The Scots’ reward is a tough looking last-eight tie with Australia, who built on their comprehensive success over England with a 15-6 win over the Welsh in front of over 80,000 fans at Twickenham.

It was a victory that owed much to the strong Aussie defence in the second-half, as they repelled a stern challenge from Warren Gatland’s side.

Neither side was ultimately able to score a try though, as Bernard Foley’s five penalties saw the Wallabies home. Dan Biggar scored all the points for the Welsh.

Last-eight line-up confirmed

Saturday 17th October:

South Africa v Wales, Twickenham, 4pm.

New Zealand v France, Millennium Stadium, 8pm.

Sunday 18th October:

Ireland v Argentina, Millennium Stadium, 1pm.

Australia v Scotland, Twickenham, 4pm.