The World Cup, so far, has been a presentation of skill and talent. And, this weekend's quarter-finals were no different. The knock-out round kicked off on Friday morning (GMT) with Australia battering Samoa and finished with Sunday morning's (GMT) clash between England and Papua New Guinea. Despite Australia and England - unsurprisingly - making it through to next week's semi-finals, Fiji pulled off one of the shocks in Rugby League history to send the Kiwis crashing out whilst Tonga came almighty close to being humbled by surprise-package Lebanon.

Australia too hot

After accumulating an impressive 104-10 points difference in their three fixtures in Group A, Australia went into their tie against Samoa in confident mood. And, with the likes of Billy Slater, Michael Morgan and Josh McGuire all returning to the team after being rested for the Kangaroos' last group fixture against Lebanon, Samoa - whom had failed to win a game in Group B - would be up against it from the very start.

The red-hot Australian showing began from the kick-off; Australia, dominant in the forwards and rising above Samoa's niggling tactics, raced into a 30-0 lead as half-time approached. A double each from Valentine Holmes - whom would break the record of most tries in a World Cup match with five - and Michael Morgan and a Billy Slater effort had effectively taken the game away from the visitors before the second forty had even started.

Holmes would add three more after the break to put the gloss on a stunning Australian performance. A 46-0 thrashing was impressive; head coach Mal Meninga - the former Queensland coach with nine State of Origin series' triumphs from ten attempts on his CV - used the same combinations that had contributed greatly to Queensland's dominance over New South Wales in the past decade.

The spine of Melbourne trio, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith were all in a rampant mood and have been at the heart of everything the Aussies have done well so far. And, driven forward by a pack featuring the fearsome Aaron Woods, David Klemmer and Jordan McLean, Fiji certainly have their work cut out to inflict what would be Mal Meninga's first defeat as Australia boss after a run of 11 victories since taking over in 2015.

Tonga edge past Lebanon

Tonga, on the back of an incredible victory over New Zealand the previous week, were expected to bypass Lebanon with ease and cruise into the semi-finals. But, Tonga were left clinging on to a mere two-point advantage by the time the hooter sounded.

The scores were finely balanced at the break with Tonga just edging it, 22-16. By the half-hour mark though, Tonga were firmly in command as tries from Tuimoala Lolohea - which had been cancelled out by Adam Doueihi's effort for Lebanon in the ninth minute - and one apiece from star winger David Fusitu'a and Will Hopoate had made it 16-6.

Yet Lebanon - inspired by key half-back duo Mitchell Moses and Robbie Farah - refused to lie down and a try by James Elias brought the Cedars within four points. Although Fusitu'a added his second soon after, Lebanon scored the final points of the half courtesy of an Abbas Miski try on the hooter.

22-16 down at the break, Lebanon threw everything at Tonga, including the proverbial kitchen sink. A disallowed try for obstruction by video referee, Ben Thaler, was a seriously harsh call before a penalty goal by Ata Hingano increased Tonga's lead by eight. Lebanon finally hit back in the 70th minute with another Miski try and, with Moses' touchline conversion, it was to be a nervy final ten minutes for the men in red.

Tonga, however, held out to march on to the semi-finals in rather uninspiring fashion.

Lebanon, made up of largely part-time players with a smattering of professionals, exited the World Cup with their heads held high; it was a performance that has come to epitomise the Cedars: passionate, determined and gutsy. On another day, Lebanon may well have found themselves in the semi-finals; as it is, Tonga live to fight another day.

Fiji edge New Zealand in thriller

The most anticipated fixture of the quarter-finals was undoubtedly Fiji's clash against the Kiwis.

After being embarrassed by Tonga last week, New Zealand needed a massive improvement to overcome an unbeaten Fijian side in buoyant mood following their demolitions of the USA, Italy and Wales.

However, the Kiwis were under the cosh for most of the first half; utterly dominant, Fiji only had an Apisai Koroisau penalty goal to show for their endeavours by half-time. If the viewer thought that there would be a heap of points in the second half following the scarce scoring in the first, they would be very much mistaken. Down 0-2 at the break, New Zealand replied with a penalty goal of their own through Shaun Johnson in the 45th minute, before Taane Milne scored what would be the decisive points 18 minutes from the end with another penalty.

If a 22-28 Tongan victory over New Zealand last week had broken the glass ceiling of international Rugby League, this result had absolutely smashed it. After the Kiwis' build-up to the World Cup was hampered by disciplinary issues, there was some hope that their performances on the field would distract from off-the-field problems, but, not here. The Fijian style of play: offloading wherever possible and jinking mazy runs alongside thunderous tackling and incredible commitment was enough to see off a New Zealand side whom, battered and bruised, never really looked like breaking the Fijian line. And, the release of emotion from the Fijian players after the final whistle was enough for even the hardest of souls to be moved.

Although it was a victory that ranks as one of the most stunning in Rugby League history, Fiji will still have to, somehow, find another level against the imperious Kangaroos in Brisbane next weekend.


England too strong for PNG

Predictions leading up to the game had seen a contrast of opinions; either England would hammer PNG or PNG would humble England in a tight affair. Although PNG were by no means disgraced, the former opinion seems to be the most justified. England were by far the better side, yet, it was an error-strewn display; England made a gargantuan 20 errors and ended with the game with a lowly 56% completion rate.

And, it certainly was not a game which instilled much confidence in England fans whom had to wake up at 5am Sunday morning. Misty-eyed, yet hopeful, did England's performance justify the early start for those whom would usually drag themselves out of bed at midday on the Sabbath rather than seven hours earlier? Possibly not; England's inconsistent attack and sloppy and wayward passing has infuriated even the most ardent of fans in the past few weeks and this tie was no different.

There were a few bright spots though in an otherwise patchy performance. Gareth Widdop underlined his credentials as a full-back yet again and James Roby outlined why he should be starting hooker with a controlled performance off the substitutes' bench.

Winger Jermaine McGillvary, meanwhile, has been one of the standout performers in this year's World Cup. And, yet another competent display in which he scored two more tries to take his tally to six for the tournament, will have added yet more suitors to a player who is seemingly wasted at mid-table Super League side Huddersfield Giants. The powerhouse winger's two first-half tries and one from Alex Walmsley sent England into a 14-0 lead at half-time.

Ben Currie's first in an England shirt 16 minutes into the second half increased England's lead to 20, but Castleford-bound Garry Lo finished well on the hour mark almost threatened a comeback. However, a double from Kallum Watkins ten minutes before the end dampened any potential PNG hopes.

The scoring did not end there though, as Ryan Hall's trademark finish in the last minute moved England out to 36-6.

Although it proved to be the end of the road for PNG, they can hold their heads up high. In Port Moresby, PNG are a different proposition altogether; in front of their sell-out crowds whom generate an atmosphere quite unlike anywhere else in the sporting world, PNG rise to the occasion. But, playing outside of their capital for the first time and rocked by an early injury to influential captain David Mead, the Papuans could not unleash their formidable and scintillating attack against a well-organised English defence. On the flip side, England must, yet again, improve going into next weekend's semi-final against Tonga.