New Zealand 46
TOKYO • New Zealand coach Steve Hansen hailed his team's stunning 46-14 World Cup quarter-final demolition of Ireland yesterday as a victory for a winning mentality and a disciplined pack of forwards.
The All Blacks raced to a 22-0 half-time lead at Tokyo Stadium and turned the screw in the second period, as Ireland scored two late tries to avoid a whitewash.
"Our attack game has gone to a new level," said Hansen, whose team will next face Eddie Jones' England in the semi-finals on Saturday.
But he said credit was due to the graft offered by a front five who outmuscled a touted Irish pack and employed a ferocious defence that stymied their opponents.
"Numbers one to five laid the platform," he said, adding that the back row get the immediate benefits, while the half-backs and Man-of-the-Match Beauden Barrett "get to drive the game".
"It's a real simple formula: if you don't go forward, you don't have opportunities to control it. That starts with the big men doing their job well.
"Defence is 50 per cent of the game and probably 90 per cent when you take in the psychological value of it. We kept our discipline."
The three-time champions, who ran in seven tries, went into the encounter having lost two of their last three matches against the Irish.
But this superb performance reflected their overall record against the men in green, now standing at 29 wins, two defeats and one draw.
After a tight opening 10 minutes, the All Blacks, dominating possession and territory and playing fluent, varied rugby at a high pace, took complete control. Quicksilver scrum-half Aaron Smith led the way with the first two tries.
"We knew the start was important and we did that well by getting points on board early," All Blacks captain Kieran Read said.
After Smith scored his first try in the 14th minute following a sustained build-up, the All Blacks seized on two Johnny Sexton errors to put the game beyond doubt.
Two-time World Player of the Year Barrett also scored to give the Kiwis their 22-0 half-time lead.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, whose six-year tenure ended with the loss, said: "It wasn't just 22 points, it was all the ball we gave them and missing the penalties which would have given us field advantage.
"It meant we were chasing our tail and they had so much ball in our half, which was tough going."
The All Blacks kept their foot on the gas in the second half, with hooker Codie Taylor, replacement flanker Matt Todd, winger George Bridge and replacement Jordie Barrett also crossing.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE