NZ rout Ireland to advance to World Cup semifinal

NZ rout Ireland to advance to World Cup semifinal

All Blacks avenge two earlier defeats by Irish and move on to face England in rugby showcase

New Zealand’s George Bridge fends off Ireland’s Jordan Larmour during their quarter-final match on Saturday at Tokyo Stadium. (Reuters Photo)
New Zealand’s George Bridge fends off Ireland’s Jordan Larmour during their quarter-final match on Saturday at Tokyo Stadium. (Reuters Photo)

TOKYO: Two-time defending champions New Zealand scored seven tries in a 46-14 demolition of Ireland on Saturday to move into the Rugby World Cup semifinal against England, who overpowered Australia earlier in the day.

The other two semi-finalists will be decided on Sunday when Wales take on France and Japan go up against South Africa.

Saturday’s result at Tokyo Stadium was virtually beyond doubt by halftime, when the All Blacks led 22-0, and the continuance of two opposing streaks seemed certain.

New Zealand hasn’t lost a World Cup quarterfinal since an upset loss to France in 2007. Ireland is yet to win a World Cup knockout match after eight attempts.

The Irish may never have felt more confident, after breaking their century-long drought with a win over the All Blacks in Chicago in 2016 and winning again in Dublin last November.

They were ranked No.1 coming into the tournament, but were never in the contest in the quarterfinal.

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 by Codie Taylor, Matt Todd, George Bridge and Jordie Barrett.

Robbie Henshaw bombed a try in the 67th minute when he chased a perfectly placed grubber kick into the in-goal but knocked out, in an error that epitomised Ireland’s night to that point.

He made amends quickly after an attacking, midfield scrum, the ball coming to Henshaw on the right, before he stepped inside and dived over under the posts. The Ireland center raised his fist in celebration but it was really a consolation that reduced the margin at that point to 41-7.

New Zealand scored again before referee Nigel Owens awarded Ireland a penalty try in the 77th, for replacement forward Todd being in an offside position. Todd finished the match in the sin-bin, but New Zealand scored again despite being a man down.

Ireland captain Rory Best’s international career ended when he was replaced in the 63rd minute and left the field with tears in his eyes, knowing there was no chance for his team to advance another week.

Earlier in Oita, England stormed into the semi-finals for the first time in 12 years when two tries for winger Jonny May, brilliant kicking by Owen Farrell and a superb defensive display drove them to a convincing 40-16 win over Australia.

England turned the match with two tries inside three minutes midway through the first half as May finished a good move for the first, then grabbed a second after Henry Slade intercepted on his own 22, galloped clear then cleverly kicked perfectly into the path of his galloping left winger.

Three Christiano Lealiifano penalties kept Australia in touch at 17-9 at the break and Marika Koroibete’s try soon after cut the lead to a point. But England but prop Kyle Sinckler then blasted through and, and after Farrell’s goalkicking stretched the lead, Anthony Watson finished it in style with a the fourth try.

It was England’s seventh successive victory over their old rivals and made it three out of three in World Cup quarter-finals following their upset wins of 1995 and 2007.

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