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Rugby World Cup 2019: New Zealand thrash Ireland to set up semi-final against England

New Zealand 46-14 Ireland: The All Blacks scored seven tries with scrum-half Aaron Smith bagging two to send Joe Schmidt into potentially temporary international retirement in the worst way possible

Adam Hathaway
Tokyo Stadium
Saturday 19 October 2019 13:21 BST
Rugby World Cup 2019 in numbers

Steve Hansen’s All Blacks teed up a World Cup semi-final against England next weekend and threw down the gauntlet to Eddie Jones and his side with a demolition of the Irish.

Hansen may have missed out at the racetrack on Saturday in Australia but it looks like he is backing a winner with his team in the Far East.

They scored seven tries with scrum-half Aaron Smith bagging two to send Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt into potentially temporary international retirement in the worst way possible.

Ireland were poor and hardly fired a shot in anger but it is hard to see many teams living with this All Black side if they are in the mood.

Over to you Eddie.

Hansen is part-owner of a racehorse called Nature Strip who ran in the Everest, a £7million race at Royal Randwick in Sydney, just hours before kick-off here.

Nature Strip, a 20-1 chance, hit the front in his race before fading to finish fourth. There was no possibility of Hansen’s charges in Japan doing likewise and it is odds-on he will be in the winners’ enclosure when the final is played in Yokohama on 2 November.

There was some breath-taking skill from wing Sevu Reece and full-back Beauden Barrett and some typical physicality from a hard-nosed pack up front as well some handling from their forwards that would put most backs to shame.

Ireland managed late tries from Robbie Henshaw and a penalty try but the game was well and truly gone by then.

It was no way for the warrior and Irish captain Rory Best to leave the international scene on the occasion of his 124th cap but by the time he departed, on 63 minutes, Ireland were 34-0 down.

All the chat before was how Ireland had to have their A game to beat this New Zealand and they were miles off it but only because the All Blacks did not let them play. This was a team who were rated No.1 in the world ahead of this tournament and they were totally taken to school.

This was an Irish team who have won Grand Slams, won a Test series in Australia and are chock full of Champions Cup winners and British & Irish Lions.

Johnny Sexton had held court on Friday and said the Kiwis would be in trouble if they tried to rough Ireland up but they did them rough them up – and it was all legal.

Aaron Smith was outstanding as New Zealand romped to quarter-final victory (AFP via Getty)

The Irish fans drowned out the pre-match haka with a rendition of ‘Fields of Athenry’ and the atmosphere was electric.

Talk about poking the bear.

Two wins out of three against the world champions counted for nothing as the New Zealanders surged into a 22-0 lead at half-time. And it was not just the tries that the Kiwis scored. In defence they were banging early back in every tackle and not giving them a yard to work with.

In the opening quarter it was finger in the dyke stuff for the Irish and something had to give. An early Richie Mo’unga penalty was soon supplemented when Kieran Read carried and Smith finished the job off.

New Zealand are through to the semi-finals (Getty)

On 20 minutes centre Jack Goodhue fed Reece, who raced cross-field off his flank, and in turn George Bridge went close before Smith again took the honours.

And it looked like game, set and match when Barrett scored a try eerily familiar to the one he recorded in the 2015 World Cup final.

Reece put a hit on Sexton from which the ball bounced lose and Mo’unga hacked on. Full-back Barrett was on hand to apply another boot before racing clear of the defence and pouncing.

It was more of the same shortly after the break when hooker Codie Taylor rumbled over and a right old shellacking looked on the cards.

And it came with a huge driving maul, a cross kick from Mo’unga to Reece who was held up short only for replacement flanker Matt Todd to go over. Henshaw’s score eventually came before Kiwi substitute hooker Dane Coles made a try for wing George Bridge with ridiculous offload.

It was all too much for Ireland.

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