AAP Rugby

Dominant All Blacks in ominous RWC form

By AAP Newswire

It's one thing to beat the All Blacks in Chicago or Dublin. It's an entirely different challenge at the Rugby World Cup, where they feel right at home.

Defending champions New Zealand scored seven tries in a 46-14 demolition of Ireland on Saturday to move into a semi-final against England, who beat Australia 40-16 earlier in Oita.

The result in Tokyo was virtually beyond doubt by halftime, when the All Blacks led 22-0, and the continuance of two opposing streaks seemed certain.

New Zealand extended their unbeaten run at the World Cup since an upset quarter-final loss to France in 2007.

Ireland are now 0-8 in World Cup knockout games.

The Irish may never have felt more confident, after their drought-breaking win over the All Blacks in Chicago in 2016 and another victory in Dublin last November that capped a year that included a Six Nations Grand Slam.

They were ranked No.1 before the tournament but were never in the contest at Tokyo Stadium.

Even after scattered green pockets of Irish fans in Tokyo Stadium sung their way through the All Blacks ceremonial pre-game haka.

Scrumhalf Aaron Smith crossed for a pair of tries from close range and Beauden Barrett finished off a long-range try against the run of play in the first half, and the All Blacks added four more tries in the second half.

The All Blacks, winners of the first World Cup in 1987 and the past two, are shaping up well for a third consecutive title.

"We're really proud of that performance," Barrett said.

"The work the big boys did to dominate most parts of this game certainly helped the backs to exploit the space. It was a huge effort."

New Zealanders deployed five-eighth Richie Mo'unga and fullback Barrett as dual playmakers and the move paid off handsomely.

"It's do-or-die footy; we knew the reality was we could have been going home if we didn't bring it tonight," Barrett said.

Ireland's night was epitomised by Robbie Henshaw's bombed try in the 67th minute, when he chased a perfectly placed grubber kick into the in-goal but knocked on.

Ireland captain Rory Best's international career came to an end, after 14 years and 124 Tests, when the hooker was replaced in the second half.

"The All Blacks were fantastic," he said.

"We felt we'd a game plan, we felt we'd enough in our armoury to beat them but they just came out of the blocks hard at us, put us on the back foot and like good sides do, they never let us get off."

Joe Schmidt's tenure as Ireland coach finished with another bitter quarterfinal disappointment.

"You carry scars a lot more than your success, and those scars are deep," he said.