England really announced themselves as serious contenders at this Rugby World Cup with their performance in their quarter-final, hammering Australia 40-16.

As expected, the Aussies came out of the blocks quickly and looked dangerous in the opening exchanges on Saturday.

It is a sign of how far England have come in the past 18 months, though, that they managed to retain their composure and strike when the opportunity arose. It would appear England had targeted the midfield in the Australian defence as an area to exploit.

Firstly, Manu Tuilagi made great inroads for one of Jonny May’s tries before, again, Kyle Sinckler went through unopposed to cap a superb display from the tighthead with a try.

But Australia’s tactics in Oita were questionable. Some of their exit strategies were really poor.

It has become standard in the modern game that you need to exit your own 22m area cleanly to stand any chance of building a score.

Too many times, however, the Aussies chanced their arm with short kicks, giving England the perfect opportunity to launch an attack. In truth, tactically, England totally dominated the contest.

This weekend will be a completely different proposition for England, though, when they face New Zealand.

The Kiwis looked fantastic and cruised to a comfortable 46-14 victory over Ireland. It could have been much more than the scoreline suggested, too.

Ireland, to their credit, tried to play. They just couldn’t muster enough phases together to trouble the All Blacks.

It ends what was a below-par tournament for Ireland. They came into the World Cup ranked number one in the world, but they have failed to deliver on the big stage.

It’s a shame for coach Joe Schmidt to end his time in charge in this manner. He has been at the forefront of the emergence of Ireland over the past few years, and leaves behind a strong legacy.

The All Blacks will go into Saturday morning’s semi-final as the slight favourites. They are a force to be reckoned with. However, England stand as good a chance as anyone of beating them.

For me, this should have been the World Cup final - it’s the two best teams in the world going head to head. We showed in our previous game against New Zealand last November that we can match them on our day.

We eventually lost by a point, falling to a 16-15 loss, but had a try disallowed in the last minutes. England will take a huge amount of confidence from that.

At the end of the day, in sport, upsets happen!

But hosts Japan couldn’t cause an upset in their quarter-final against South Africa as the Springboks won 26-3 on Sunday.

As I predicted before the match, South Africa were just too physical for the Japanese. The Cherry Blossoms still threw everything at them, 5-3 at half-time was testament to that. Ultimately, however, the better team ran out comfortable winners.

Japan have been a breath of fresh air. The way they play the game is what people want to see, free-flowing attacking rugby, trying to score plenty of tries.

They have captured the imagination of the country and have gained many fans around the world.

Wales, meanwhile, used their “get out of jail free” card on Sunday after France opened up an early lead, only to slip to defeat late on.

Virimi Vakatawa was phenomenal with the ball in hand. The Welsh lacked firepower in midfield following Jon Davies late withdrawal. Davies is one the best 13s in the world, and his absence was certainly felt.

The game changed after the red card to Sébastien Vahaamahina. It was a senseless act that cost France a place in the semi-final.

Wales were lucky with a few decisions, too. But every team rides their luck at times, and they still managed to capitalise on the opportunities to come away with the win.

There is no doubt, however, that they will need to be much better this Sunday to stand a chance of beating South Africa at the Nissan Stadium.