New Zealand remains right on course to retain the Rugby World Cup after it eased through to the semifinals with a 46-14 thrashing of Ireland at Tokyo Stadium on Saturday.
The All Blacks ran in seven tries as they emphatically crushed their opponent, setting up a showdown with England - 40-16 winners over Australia in the first knockout tie of the 2019 tournament - in Yokohama next weekend.
As for Ireland, the heavy defeat means they are still yet to get beyond the last eight at a World Cup, a record seventh quarterfinal exit bringing a disappointing end to Joe Schmidt's otherwise successful reign.
It had won two of the past three meetings between the teams but hopes of further success disappeared during an error-strewn opening half, New Zealand scoring 22 points without reply to make the result a formality with 40 minutes still left to play.
The All Blacks had opened their campaign in Japan with a hard-fought win over South Africa, but that heavyweight clash was a month ago, leading to suggestions rustiness could be an issue after cruising through the rest of their Pool B fixtures.
However, it soon became clear there was no need for head coach Steve Hansen to be concerned about his team being undercooked.
Aaron Smith darted over twice from close range in the first quarter, and even when Ireland did eventually threaten with ball in hand on the half-hour, miscommunication between Johnny Sexton and Keith Earls coughed up possession and New Zealand ruthlessly made it pay, Richie Mo'unga initially hacking the loose ball on before leaving it for Beauden Barrett to finish.
A sorry first half for Schmidt's team was summed up by a penalty decision being reversed, denying it a chance to get on the scoreboard before the break, while any remote idea of a comeback disappeared when Kieran Read's pass off the floor set up hooker Codie Taylor eight minutes into the second period.
Matt Todd and the excellent Bridge also crossed as New Zealand refused to show any mercy, though the former finished the game in the sin bin after Ireland was awarded a penalty try.
Robbie Henshaw had already crossed by then to make sure the Irish avoided the indignity of being shut out, yet the All Blacks deservedly had the last word when Beauden Barrett's pass put brother Jordie in at the right corner.
Vulnerable All Blacks? Forget about it!
Typhoon Hagibis forced the postponement of New Zealand's final group game against Italy, yet it did not take long to get back into the swing of things. An early show of physicality set the tone for a dominant display as it made a statement to those who have designs on ending its long reign as world champion.
Say it ain’t so, Joe…
This was not how Schmidt hoped his tenure would end. He had twice plotted defeats of his homeland previously, but there was to be no hat-trick. Still, he departs after over six years in charge having won three Six Nations titles, including completing the Grand Slam in 2018. Sadly for Ireland, it appeared to have peaked a year too early in terms of the World Cup.
New Zealand remain right on course to retain the Rugby World Cup after they eased through to the semifinals with a 46-14 thrashing of Ireland in Toyko.
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