New Zealand 62-13 France: All Blacks smash Les Bleus to reach semis
- All Blacks now play South Africa in next week’s semi-final
- New Zealand scores nine tries with Julian Savea scoring another hat-trick
- Dan Carter kicks seven out of nine conversions
- France’s only try came from number 8 Louis Picamoles
A record-smashing performance from the reigning World Champions New Zealand saw them blast France away in the highest ever scoring Rugby World Cup quarter-final in Cardiff.
Nine New Zealand tries to France’s one allayed any fears that they would not be able to defend their title.
Handling errors were a distant memory from the Pool stage as Steve Hansen’s men blew the French away in a merciless display of attacking rugby.
Julian Savea scored a hat-trick to draw level with Bryan Habana and Jonah Lomu as record World Cup try scorer, and go three clear of Habana and teammate Nehe Milner Skudder in this year’s tournament.
Tawera Kerr-Barlow came off the bench to score a brace, with Milner Skudder, Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read and Brodie Retallick all crossing the whitewash.
New Zealand came racing out of the blocks as they laid waste to the French back line. A loose searching kick was too long from fly-half Dan Carter and the ball went dead behind the posts.
Les Bleus did well to weather that initial storm, but Carter’s trusty left boot gave his side a deserved lead on seven minutes, 0-3.
Scott Spedding then levelled proceedings just two minutes later with a piledriver of a penalty which just kissed the right upright on its way over.
The All Blacks then swiftly found the opening try, but not through the flair play that one would expect.
Lock Brodie Retallick charged down a Frederick Michalak clearance to run clear through for just his second international try.
Unfortunately for France, their number 10 limped off immediately after with his side 10-6 behind.
Scrumhalf Morgan Parra reduced the arrears to four with a sweetly struck penalty, and Les Bleus suddenly had their tails up.
Parra had the chance to make it a one-point game from the tee, but he screwed horribly off target for his first miss of the tournament.
New Zealand were fortunate to get away with a charge down from Carter’s kick through, but the All Blacks came again and found try number two.
Nehe Milner Skudder waltzed inside to go clear through from a Ma’a Nonu assist and level with compatriot Julian Savea as joint top try scorer at this World Cup.
Savea was having none of it and edged clear with his 36th international try, one short of Jonah Lomu. Dan Carter made it with an unbelievable offload to allow the wing to stroll over the whitewash unchallenged.
Quick hands from France after a swiftly taken lineout saw the ball end up in the grasp of Louis Picamoles to stretch for the line and give his side hope.
The All Blacks looked keen to extinguish any flicker of a fightback, and Savea made history with yet another try, as he displayed phenomenal power and tenacity to bully his way over once more.
After the break the wind was certainly in French sails, but the European side were unable to turn their possession and territory into points .
Les Bleus were then dealt a hammer blow when the TMO spotted that Picamoles had put his fist in the face of New Zealand captain Richie McCaw as he lay on the floor, and the number eight was sent to the bin.
France escaped conceding a fifth try when Alexandre Dumoulin’s kicked clearance was charged down, but it didn’t take long for the All Blacks to eventually score on 50 minutes with Jerome Kaino converting a brilliant sweeping move.
Savea completed his hat-trick just shy of the hour mark by tearing down the left wing with blistering pace. It was his second hat-trick of the competition and his fourth in an All Black jersey. The try also drew him level with Jonah Lomu and Bryan Habana as record try scorer in Rugby World Cup history.
Carter added gloss to the score to make it 41-13 to the champions with 20 minutes to play.
A flurry of tries then followed for the All Blacks, with Kieran Read and a Tawera Kerr-Barlow brace coming in a rapid seven-minute spell.
It finished 62-13 in the end but it could have been far more, with France desperate for the final whistle.
What comes next for both
New Zealand simply looked unstoppable this evening, and South Africa should beware. The two heavyweights now clash in a mouth-watering semi-final, with the winner having the opportunity to lift the trophy for a record third time. It will throw up several key clashes, with Savea and Habana going head to head as they both seek the personal accolade of standing alone as record World Cup try scorer. The Springboks will pose a very different kind of threat than any that the All Blacks have had to face so far, and they will need to rest and recuperate to ensure that they are at their very best for that crunch match.
France now go home with their tail between their legs, having been on the receiving end of the biggest defeat in a World Cup knockout match in the history of the competition. Les Bleus had some fond memories of felling the mighty All Blacks, but the spirit of 2007 could not have been further away as they capitulated in Cardiff. Coach Philippe Saint-Andres now departs his post, and new boss Guy Noves will have his hands full ahead of the Six Nations in February.
Man of the match
New Zealand: Julian Savea
Channelling the spirit of the great Jonah Lomu, Savea displayed incredible pace and brute strength to bounce off Frenchman to score a stunning hat-trick. The magical wing equalled Lomu and Habana as record Rugby World Cup try scorer, and his hat-trick was the first in a knockout match since Lomu and Chester Williams scored one each at the 1995 edition of the tournament. Savea also surpassed Lomu’s All Black record of 37 test tries, and South Africa will fear him as he looks unstoppable.
New Zealand: 15. Ben Smith, 14. Nehe Milner-Skudder (Beauden Barrett 40), 13. Conrad Smith (Sonny Bill Williams 52), 12. Ma’a Nonu, 11. Julian Savea, 10. Daniel Carter, 9. Aaron Smith (Tawera Kerr-Barlow 65) 8. Kieran Read, 7. Richie McCaw (Sam Cane 68), 6. Jerome Kaino, 5. Sam Whitelock, 4. Brodie Retallick, 3. Owen Franks (Charlie Faumuina 51), 2. Dane Coles (Keven Mealamu, 60), 1. Wyatt Crockett (Joe Moody 28)
France: 15. Scott Spedding, 14. Noa Nakaitaci, 13. Alexandre Dumoulin (Mathieu Bastareaud 61), 12. Wesley Fofana, 11. Brice Dulin, 10. Frederic Michalak (Remi Tales, 11), 9. Morgan Parra (Rory Kockott 68), 8. Louis Picamoles (Damien Chouly 72), 7. Bernard Le Roux, 6. Thierry Dusautoir, 5. Yoann Maestri, 4. Pascal Pape (Yannick Nyanga 47), 3. Rabah Slimani (Nicolas Mas 60), 2. Guilhem Guirado (Dimitri Szarzewski 56), 1 . Eddy Ben Arous (Vincent Debaty 61)