It started with Argentina fighting back to defeat Wales in Marseille, before New Zealand upset Ireland to eliminate the top ranked side.
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The drama continued when England survived a late scare against Fiji, whilst South Africa held on to defeat hosts France at the Stade de France.
Rugby.com.au recaps every game from the weekend.
Argentina 27 def Wales 17
Emiliano Boffelli kicked 17 points to help Argentina to a dramatic 29-17 victory over Wales in Marseille on Saturday to set up a World Cup semi-final against the winners of England versus Fiji.
Los Pumas came into the quarter-final at the Stade Velodrome as underdogs, having finished Pool D runners-up to England while Wales booked their place in the quarters with a perfect four wins from four in Pool C.
But Argentina played the territorial game, and while not shining in attack, proved to be solid in defence, disruptive at the line-out and disciplined enough to contain a fancied Welsh side seeking to make the semi-final for the third time in four tournaments.
“I am pretty happy to be here. A semi-final won’t be the end, that’s what I am expecting. That sounds pretty obvious but teams who are playing in Paris look to be already in the semi-finals and finals. In a couple of days we will start to prepare ourselves. We are happy but that is not the final step, we want to go further.” – Argentina coach Michael Cheika
“Obviously we’re incredibly disappointed, but I don’t want to take anything away from Argentina in terms of their performance. They were a tough team to put away and they hung in there with the fight, kept going – it was an incredibly physical test match which really could have gone any way.” – Wales coach Warren Gatland
Argentina 29 (TRIES: Sclavi, Sánchez; CONS: Boffelli 2; PENS: Boffelli 4, Sanchez) def Wales 17 (TRIES: Biggar, T. Williams; CONS: Biggar 2; PENS: Biggar)
New Zealand 28 def Ireland 24
New Zealand have put in a brilliant defensive performance to prevail 28-24 over Ireland in a titanic World Cup quarter-final, setting up a meeting with Michael Cheika’s Argentina for a place in the final.
The All Blacks played for 20 minutes with 14 men against the Six Nations champions and had to dig deep to defend their line through 40 phases in the dying seconds as the world No.1-ranked Irish searched for a winning try.
It was an eighth quarter-final loss for Ireland, ended their winning streak at 17 matches and sent five-eighth Johnny Sexton into retirement without the glittering prize with which he had hoped to crown his career.
“The world has been talking about these two quarter-finals for 12 months now, even longer. France v South Africa is likely to be the same. They are massive games, two very proud teams, desperate to win it. Sometimes the sweetest victories are when your opponents play really well and test you to the limit…We played a lot of that game with 14 men but I couldn’t be more proud of the players. I thought we looked in control of it.” – New Zealand coach Ian Foster
“Fine margins and all that. Getting held up on line from a maul close to end which could have sealed the game. If, buts and maybes and all that. Two good teams out there playing some outstanding rugby but we came out on the wrong side of the score. Sport can be cruel at times. But I’m unbelievably proud of the group the way they have handled themselves not just today but over the last couple of years.” – Ireland coach Andy Farrell
New Zealand 28 (TRIES: Fainga’anuku, Savea, Jordan; CONS: Mo’unga, J.Barrett; PENS: Mo’unga, J.Barrett 2) def Ireland 24 (TRIES: Aki, Gibson-Park, Penalty Try; CONS: Sexton 2; Pens: Sexton)
England 30 def Fiji 24
Owen Farrell scored a late drop goal and penalty on Sunday to send England into the Rugby World Cup semi-finals with a tense and nervy 30-24 victory over Fiji.
First-half tries from centres Manu Tuilagi and Joe Marchant had looked to have sent England on their way to a semi-final against either hosts France or reigning champions South Africa.
But Fiji, who scored tries through Viliame Mata, Peni Ravai and Vilimoni Botitu, produced a stirring fightback in Marseille although in the end Farrell’s 20 points with the boot proved decisive.
That denied Fiji the chance to make history and a first ever last four appearance as they fell at the quarter-final stage for the third time.
“Really pleased for the players out there and the squad of 33 who have worked really hard for the result tonight. Really pleased for all of the supporters, both here in the ground tonight who I thought were incredible and the millions back home who have been watching on television.” – England coach Steve Borthwick
“The pride’s never gone away, it’s there from the beginning until the day I die. These boys are family. Pride doesn’t disappear…We’re hurting at the moment and it will hurt for a long time because it was something we had built and we thought we could go further. The belief in the team has always been there. I’m bursting with pride.” – Fiji coach Simon Raiwalui
England 30 (TRIES: Tuilagi, Marchant; CONS: Farrell; PENS: Farrell 5; DGS: Farrell) def Fiji 24 (TRIES: Mata, Ravai, Botitu; CONS: Lomani, Kuruvoli 2; PENS: Lomani)
South Africa 29 def France 28
Defending champions South Africa edged hosts France 29-28 in a thrilling encounter on Sunday to reach next weekend’s Rugby World Cup semi-finals.
The Springboks kept their hopes of a record fourth title alive thanks to fly-half Handre Pollard’s second-half points, setting up a last-four meeting with England back in Paris next Saturday.
In-form France were knocked out at the quarter-finals despite leading at the break in a huge disappointment for the expectant home support.
“Credit to the French first of all. We knew it was going to be this tight. I think everybody knew it was going to be a big battle. Two good teams and unfortunately, or fortunately for us, we were on the right side of things.” – South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber
“I’m thinking of our supporters, families, people who believe in us daily, who were around us, who put in all the work. The players, of course, our France group which tonight has to be brave..” – France coach Fabien Galthié
South Africa 29 (TRIES: Arendse, de Allende, Kolbe, Etzebeth; CONS: Libbok 2, Pollard; PENS: Pollard) def France 28 (TRIES: Baille 2, Mauvaka; CONS: Ramos 2; PENS: Ramos 3)