TOKYO: New Zealand overwhelmed Ireland 46-14 and England thumped their old enemy Australia to set up a blockbuster semi-final at the Rugby World Cup on Saturday.
Aaron Smith scored the first two of seven tries by the All Blacks, who kept Ireland scoreless for 70 minutes in a one-sided victory at Tokyo Stadium.
Earlier England beat Australia 40-16, equalling their record margin of victory over their fierce rivals, following Jonny May’s quickfire try double in the first half.
It sets up a mouth-watering showdown next Saturday in Yokohama, where top-ranked New Zealand will put their 18-match World Cup winning streak on the line against Eddie Jones’s formidable English.
On Sunday, Wales face France in Oita and hosts Japan, the tournament’s surprise package, play the first World Cup quarter-final in their history against South Africa in Tokyo.
New Zealand are going for their third straight title and they brutally dismissed a misfiring Ireland side who have now lost in the quarter-finals seven times.
Smith’s early double was followed by a score to man-of-the-match Beauden Barrett, who ran on to his own grubber kick, before the All Blacks repulsed an Irish charge to turn 22-0 ahead.
Kieran Read’s off-the-deck offload put Codie Taylor over for New Zealand’s fourth try before Matt Todd grabbed their fifth.
Robbie Henshaw finally put Ireland on the board before hooker Dane Coles gave a one-handed offload for George Bridge’s try as New Zealand went 41-7 ahead.
A penalty try doubled Ireland’s score before Beauden Barrett fed his brother Jordie for their seventh and final try.
It was a night of raw emotions for the three Barrett brothers, also including second-row Scott, after they lost their grandfather Ted earlier in the week.
“It’s been an emotional week for my family,” Beauden said, tearing up, as he collected his man-of-the-match award. “All we wanted to do was play well for him tonight. We’re thinking of you up there, we love you Grandad Ted.”
Earlier in Oita, May scored the first two of England’s four tries in three first-half minutes as the Red Roses reached their first semi-final since 2007.
Kyle Sinckler and Anthony Watson crossed in the second half and 20 points flowed from Owen Farrell’s perfect kicking as Jones’s men throttled the Wallabies’ attempts to claw their way back into it.
“We did what’s needed. We had the lead and obviously Australia were throwing everything at us,” said Farrell. “We wanted to play the game at our pace not theirs, and we did that in the second half.”
With his contract up after the World Cup, the defeat appears to have ended Michael Cheika’s five-year stint as Wallabies coach whose highlight was reaching the World Cup final in 2015.
“I was supposed to get this done for the people here and the Australians. It’s so disappointing,” said a disconsolate Cheika, a former team-mate of Jones at Sydney’s Randwick club.
Australia looked dangerous early on but England seized the advantage with May’s rapid try double.
England stretched the Australian defence as they attacked right and then left, before man of the match Tom Curry drew the final defender to give the left wing an easy score in the corner.
Henry Slade then intercepted the ball on halfway and raced towards the try-line before chipping into space with a kick that was deftly gathered by the England wing.
Three Christian Lealiifano penalties kept Australia in touch at 17-9 at half-time, and they came storming back after the restart when Marika Koroibete skinned Elliot Daly to cross for the Wallabies.
But England hit back almost immediately when Farrell picked out Sinckler with a bullet pass and the prop burst through a gap for his first international try.
Watson’s late intercept try completed the job for England, who equalled their record margin of victory against Australia — and beat them for a third time in the World Cup quarter-finals.
Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2019