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Evaluating the performance of the Home Nations at the Rugby World Cup

The Rugby World Cup is nearing its conclusion, and so far the Home Nations can consider it a success.

England's Mark Cueto fails to score a try during the Rugby World Cup final against South Africa at the Stade de France Stadium in Saint-Denis, near Paris, October 20, 2007© Reuters
The Rugby World Cup is nearing its conclusion, and so far the Home Nations can consider it a success. England could yet become world champions, while Wales came so close.

Here's how each team is doing so far.

England
England are into the final after a sensational display against the All Blacks last weekend. It all started so well for England, with a 35-3 win over Tonga. Several first-half tries from Manu Tuilagi pushed England forward during the game; Owen Farrell scored top of the game with 15 points.

Their second game against USA at the Kobe Misaki Stadium proved equally successful. With seven tries and 45 points, England came out on top, with George Ford as player of the match with five successful conversion kicks and a try scored. Since that, they have gone from strength to strength, easing each opponent out of the way. England will be hoping last weekend wasn't the peak and they can follow it up with a solid display this weekend, making them world champions. The betting sites suggest England are slight favourites for this Saturday's showdown.

Ireland
Head coach Joe Schmidt will be disappointed with Ireland's World Cup performance. They were knocked out at the quarter-final stage by a rampant New Zealand team. It all started so well for the Irish, when they beat Scotland 27-3 in their first game. The four-try defeat over Scotland saw Ireland picking up a bonus point but the game had its low points for the team too, after flanker Hamish Watson suffered a knee injury and was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament.

They were defeated in their second game of the Pool stage against Japan by a 19-12 scoreline, before hammering both Russia 35-0 and Samoa 47-5 respectively.

Scotland
Scotland failed to make it past the pools. They will be disappointed with their performance, but perhaps the writing was on the wall from the very beginning. They faced a devastating, four-try defeat in their first game of the Pool stages against Ireland in which they lost 27-3. Even with strong possession and territory in the final 10 minutes, they were unable to score a try.

Scotland's second game of the tournament against Samoa maybe showed a change of pace. With a full time score of 34-0, Scotland certainly dominated the Kobe Misaki Stadium. They followed that up with a commanding 61-0 victory over Russia to set up a showdown with Japan but, despite a valiant display, the hosts came out on top to send the Scots home.

Wales
Wales narrowly missed out on making it an all-British final. Their tournament got off to a great start in their first game against Georgia, scoring six tries and earning a try bonus point — setting the tone for their campaign. With three early tries in the first 19 minutes, they finished the game 43-14. Tries were scored by six different players, including George North, Tomos Williams, Liam Williams, Josh Adams and Justin Tipuric.

A closer win was completed in their second game against Australia, which ended with a 25-29 score. As Wales first Rugby World Cup win against Australia since 1987, it was a historic moment for the home team. It was also the most points conceded by Australia in a RWC match.

They then sailed through to the quarter-finals with routine victories over Fiji and Uruguay. France stood in their way in the quarter-finals, and a dramatic 20-19 victory put them within touching distance of the final. However, it wasn't to be. An impressive South Africa side condemned them to the Bronze Final against New Zealand.

Can England bring it home for the Home Nations?
England go into Saturday's game as favourites. If they can match the performance levels of last weekend, they shouldn't have any problem bringing the World Cup home.

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