The All Blacks have powered their way into the semifinals of the Rugby World Cup, with the two-time defending champions walloping Ireland 46-14 in their quarterfinal at Tokyo Stadium.

Up against a side who they had lost two of their past three matches against, New Zealand produced a statement-making performance.

They ran in three first-half tries to hold an imposing 22-0 lead at halftime, before adding four more in the second to book their semifinal berth.

The All Blacks will face England at Yokohama next Saturday for a place in a third consecutive World Cup final.

Ireland, meanwhile, head home having extended their streak of having never won a knockout match in World Cup history.

After not getting to play their final pool game because of Typhoon Hagibis, there had been concerns about potential All Blacks rustiness.

But those concerns were almost immediately shut down.

Richie Moúnga put the defending champions on the board with a well-taken early penalty and on the quarter-hour mark they struck the first blow.

Halfback Aaron Smith was the beneficiary of strong ball carrying and several instances of lovely interplay, darting over from the base of the ruck to score next to the posts.

Five minutes later the Highlanders No 9 was in again.

A slick set-piece move from an attacking scrum saw Bridge race down the left flank and although he was brought down just a few feet short, Smith again pounced on the quick ball and forced his way over.

Moúnga’s sideline conversion meant New Zealand suddenly had a 17-0 lead, and the 75 percent territory and 65 percent possession in their favour figures showing they were well worth that buffer.

Beauden Barrett scored the third and final try of the half, skilfully toeing the ball ahead and dotting down after a Sevu Reece tackle in New Zealand territory jolted the ball free and Moúnga hacked it into the open space.

Ireland desperately needed to score before the break and almost did.

But after pounding away at the line for several minutes, the pressure came to nothing and when the second half started normal service was resumed.

Eight minutes after the resumption a crisp short pass from Smith put captain Kieran Read through a half gap, and a skillful pass off the ground allowed Codie Taylor to dive in under the bar.

Quarter of an hour later, four tries became five when Matt Todd benefitted from a Moúnga cross kick and scything run from standout Reece.

The Irish did manage a pair of consolation tries in the last quarter of the match, thanks to midfielder Robbie Henshaw and a penalty try which saw Todd yellow carded.

But they didn’t put a dent in the final margin, the All Blacks picking up two tries themselves.

Bridge bagged a thoroughly well-deserved five-pointer after classy work from Ardie Savea and Dane Coles, while replacement back Jordie Barrett completed the rout in the last minute of the match.

With England also convincing winners over Australia in their quarterfinal, the clinical New Zealand display set up a mouth-watering semi-final showdown.

The other two semifinalists will be decided today, when Wales play France and hosts Japan takes on South Africa.

RNZ

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