Rugby New Zealand vs Ireland – Rugby World Cup quarter-final: All Blacks hand Irish brutal lesson – 5 things we learned

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New Zealand powered past Ireland 41-14 to deliver an ominous sign for their rivals in pursuit of retaining the World Cup.

Aaron Smith’s quick thinking ensured the All Blacks stormed into an early lead; diving low from close range for a pair of tries.

Their expansive game soon followed, with Beauden Barrett capitalising on a clever kick into space, collecting after blowing the Irish away in a foot race and collecting his second try of the tournament.

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A now exhausted Ireland were then ground down by New Zealand’s mauling, with Matt Todd adding the finishing touch to a gruelling try. Robbie Henshaw scored late on to ensure the Irish did not become the first side to ever lose a World Cup knock-out match to nil, before adding another score through a penalty try, but it was all too little, too late.

England now await in the semi-finals, here are five things we learned from Tokyo.

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RugbySloppy errors cost Irish

Of course, it’s a product of the opponents. The relentless barrage of pressure, constantly surrendering possession and territory to New Zealand’s frothing forward pack. The backs constantly toying at the seams at Joe Schmidt’s panicked defence. When hope is crumbling away so starkly as it did in the first-half in Tokyo, Ireland’s relief at just receiving ball and then the desperate jolt of needing to conjure something from nothing can be overawing.

Yet the litany of mistakes that underpinned Ireland’s rocking horse start were still so elementary. Nine handling errors spread nerves virally, and 12 penalties mindlessly conceded unhinging every sniff of pressure, as Ireland reeled back into their shells, too cautious to risk invention and rouse a fightback. The systematic nature that saw Ireland humble the All Blacks in Dublin a dissipating memory in the face of a total desertion of the basics.

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