Sublime New Zealand thrash France in Rugby World Cup quarter final to set up last four meeting with South Africa
CARDIFF, WALES, UK (OCTOBER 17, 2015) (IMG/RWC LIMITED) – Julian Savea scored his second hat-trick of the tournament as a ruthless New Zealand, looking every inch the reigning champions, dismantled France 62-13 on Saturday to set up a Rugby World Cup semi-final against South Africa.
In a repeat of the 2011 final, the All Blacks ran in nine tries for the biggest score ever conceded in a test by France and will now meet the Springboks, who beat Wales 23-19 in the first quarter-final, at Twickenham next Saturday.
Winger Savea’s triple took his tally to eight for the tournament and there was a brace for replacement Tawera Kerr-Barlow with further tries from Nehe Milner-Skudder, lock Brodie Retallick, flanker Jerome Kaino and number eight Kieran Read.
French flair flickered briefly but the dominant All Blacks quickly snuffed out hopes of an upset to match those of 1999 and at the same stage in the same stadium in 2007, the only time New Zealand have failed to reach the last four of a World Cup.
New Zealand flyhalf Dan Carter looked back close to his best and contributed 17 points with the boot, including a single penalty in the fifth minute to open the scoring.
Fullback Scott Spedding had just brought France level with a 54-metre penalty when Retallick charged down Frederic Michalak’s clearance kick, gathered the ball on the first bounce and lumbered to the line to touch down.
Carter added the extras but that was the end of Michalak’s night and scrumhalf Morgan Parra took the short-range kicking duties to reduce the deficit to 10-6.
Parra should have cut it still further, only to miss an easy penalty, and Carter had a drop goal attempt charged down before Milner-Skudder cut inside off his wing and turned on the afterburners to score his fifth try of the tournament.
Carter converted and soon created a try for Savea, taking on the defensive line with a dummy, fending off his tackler and producing a sublime backhanded offload to send the hulking winger flying to the line.
France hit back seven minutes later, however, when number eight Louis Picamoles picked up a loose pass and bulldozed his way to the line for a converted try.
But the revival was short-lived and Savea pushed away two tacklers and crashed over the line in the grasp of a third to send New Zealand into the break 29-13 up.
France tore into the All Blacks after halftime but their most promising passage of play ended when Picamoles was sent to the sin-bin for pushing his fist into the face of Richie McCaw.
That pretty much ended French hopes of victory and Kaino crossed before he returned with Savea completing his hat-trick with the sixth try before the hour mark.
The All Blacks looked like scoring every time they got the ball for the last 20 minutes and it was Read and Kerr-Barlow, on at scrumhalf for Aaron Smith, who put the gloss on New Zealand’s ninth straight victory over the French.