The 2013 Rugby League World Cup group stage has all but reached its climax, with only Group B's crescendo between Samoa and France left to run.
Nonetheless, we have a firm idea of exactly which eight we'll see in this year's quarter-final action, while the rest of the field will be disappointed at having to leave this early.
From here, the level of competition is only set to get fiercer, and it's something you won't want to miss a second of. Read on for a full preview of when next weekend's quarter-final fixtures take place, as well as some predictions of just who we might see in the tournament's semi-finals.
|2013 Rugby League Cup Quarterfinal Predictions|
|New Zealand vs. Scotland||Nov. 15||Headingley Carnegie Stadium, Leeds||8 p.m. GMT/3 p.m. ET||52-16|
|Australia vs. United States||Nov. 16||The Racecourse Ground, Wrexham||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||46-6|
|England vs. France/Samoa||Nov. 16||DW Stadium, Wigan||8 p.m. GMT/3 p.m. ET||N/A|
|France/Samoa vs. Fiji||Nov. 17||Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington||3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET||N/A|
New Zealand vs. Scotland
The defending champions have been in prolific form over the last fortnight—New Zealand's lowest group score being a hugely impressive 42 against Samoa.
Since then, the Kiwis have gone from strength to strength, boasting the biggest points difference of any team as the group phase comes to its end.
Scotland have been impressive in their opening encounters, too, but face a different level of opponent entirely this weekend. New Zealand is far beyond whatever the likes of Tonga, Italy or the United States could muster.
It doesn't bode well for Steve McCormack's side that they've only once managed to concede less than 20 points in their group trials and now go up against the tournament's most impressive attacking team.
So far in this competition, 13 different players have scored tries for Stephen Kearney's side, with stars such as Sonny Bill Williams, Shaun Johnson, Manu Vatuvei and Frank-Paul Nu'uausala all shining.
In short, the New Zealand attack is in unstoppable form right now, and Scotland aren't the immovable object to dismount them.
Prediction: New Zealand 52-16 Scotland
Australia vs. United States
The earliest decided quarter-final is between two teams who dominated their respective groups. Australia won all of their Group A outings while Group D qualifiers the United States were the first team to advance from the pool phase.
Having rested several key players for their final group game, the Kangaroos will be able to recall a batch of their finest for the upcoming fixture, such as Greg Inglis, Johnathan Thurston and Michael Jennings—none of whom featured against Ireland.
Meanwhile, the United States have yet to face anything less than a make-or-break match, and there are bound to be some tiring bodies in Joseph Paulo's squad at this point.
The Americans were fortunate to be drawn in a fairly out-of-shape group against Wales and the Cook Islands, but Tim Sheens' Australia side will be as eager as ever to right the wrongs of the last World Cup on their way to reclaiming the title from New Zealand.
With their key players refreshed from the break, expect to see Australia's first team put a big score on their U.S. rivals this weekend.
Prediction: Australia 46-6 United States