Tokyo: Aaron Smith scored a brace of tries as defending champions New Zealand thrashed Ireland 46-14 on Saturday to set up a mouth-watering World Cup semi-final against England in Yokohama next weekend.
The All Blacks, seeking a third successive World Cup title, scored three first-half tries to all but end the game as a contest, going on to add four more in the second period.
Pivot Richie Mo’unga contributed 11 points with the boot to extend to 18 games New Zealand’s winning World Cup record - they have not lost since their 20-18 quarter-final defeat by France in 2007.
The victory also extended their record to 29 wins from 32 games against Ireland, who had won two of the last three meetings between the two sides, but now exit at the quarter-final stage of the World Cup for a record seventh time.
Winger Jonny May scored two tries in three first-half minutes as England underlined their credentials with a dominant 40-16 win over Australia earlier.
Four years after the Wallabies sent England packing out of their own tournament, Eddie Jones’s side gained a measure of revenge while extending their winning streak over the Australians to seven matches.
Australia played a full part in an engrossing contest but in the end were well beaten by a team who defended stoutly, took their chances ruthlessly and had a flyhalf in Owen Farrell who managed the game maturely and kicked flawlessly for 20 points.
England, who scored four tries in all to Australia’s one, have now won three World Cup quarter-finals against Australia and will move on with confidence to the clash against the All Blacks, who beat Ireland 46-14 later on Saturday.
“This was a good performance but we don’t feel we are at our best yet,” said England coach Eddie Jones, before expanding on a Japanese theme he introduced on Thursday.
New Zealand worked the close quarters around the ruck early on, and there were only so many waves of attack Ireland could withstand before wilting, Smith darting over from short range.
Sexton spurned a shot at goal to go for the corner, but Mo’unga produced an athletic leap to keep the ball in play, eventually finding the ubiquitous Beauden Barrett inside him for the clearance.
Smith got his second shortly afterwards following an initial slick midfield move that saw the impressive Sevu Reece loop around and find fellow winger George Bridge, whose mazy run saw him squirm his way up to the line.
The All Black scrum-half was on hand to muscle his way over despite the attentions of Stockdale and Conor Murray. Two Mo’unga conversions and suddenly New Zealand were 17-0 up.
The All Blacks’ defensive wall did its work when Reece hit the heavily marked Jonny Sexton, dislodging the ball for Mo’unga to kick ahead, with Barrett on hand to collect his own additional dribble and cross for a third try.
Ireland hadn’t helped themselves in the first-half, guilty of falling off tackles, handling errors and poor kicking.
The second period started no better for them, outclassed by New Zealand’s sublime off-loading skills.
When Kieran Read took a flat ball off Smith, he turned hitting the floor and popped to Codie Taylor, the hooker flopping over under the posts for a try, Mo’unga adding the extras.
Replacement flanker Matt Todd was next on the scoresheet, shooting over from short range after Reece had taken a cross-field kick from Barrett and got to within a yard of the line.
Ireland briefly stirred, with Joey Carbery on for Sexton, centre Robbie Henshaw crossing for a try and referee Nigel Owens awarding a penalty try after Todd infringed.
But New Zealand underlined their credentials as World Cup contenders with a wonderful sixth try, Bridge finishing off a move that saw Ardie Savea make a turnover and Dane Coles produce a fantastic one-handed off-load that summed up the All Blacks’ superior attacking intent.
At a glance
England 40 Australia 16
New Zealand (holders) 46 Ireland 14
Wales vs France
Japan vs South Africa
48: Tamura (JPN)
44: Farrell (ENG)
37: Mo’unga (NZL)
31: J. Barrett (NZL)
30: Berchesi (URU)
28: Jantjies (RSA)
26: Hastings (SCO), Sexton (IRL)
25: Adams (WAL), Matsushima (JPN)
5: Adams (WAL), Matsushima (JPN)
4: Fukuoka (JPN), Montoya (ARG)
3: Mapimpi, Mbonambi, Reinach (all RSA), Cowan-Dickie, May (both ENG), Haylett-Petty, Koroibete (both AUS), J. Barrett (NZL), Conway (IRL), Horne (SCO), Veainu (TON).