Rugby World Cup 2015: New Zealand thrashes France in quarterfinal

Story highlights

  • New Zealand thrash France to make semifinal
  • Late try gives South Africa victory over gallant Wales

(CNN)There was once a time when France was considered New Zealand's bete noir on the World Cup stage.

Legendary French victories against considerable odds in the 1999 semifinal and 2007 quarterfinal certainly testified to that.
But there seemed little to spook the awesome All Blacks in Cardiff Saturday as the reigning rugby world champions bludgeoned a sorry Les Bleus 62-13 to waltz into next weekend's semifinals.
    Four first-half tries from Brodie Retallick, Nehe Milner-Skudder and Julian Savea (twice) put New Zealand firmly in charge despite a riposte notched by Louis Picamoles.
    And a lack of French discipline combined with some majestic attacking play from New Zealand piled on the agony in the second period for France's outgoing coach Philippe Saint-Andre.
    Jerome Kaino strolled over for the first try after the restart during a spell in the bin for Picamoles, who had thrown a punch at New Zealand captain Richie McCaw.
    Savea then turned on the afterburners to race away from the French backline and secure his hat-trick just before the hour mark.
    Kieran Read touched down shortly after before a quickfire double from Tawera Kerr-Barlow rounded off the scoring.
    New Zealand could have made it even more but Ma'a Nonu dropped the ball inches from the line when it seemed easier to score.
    "It was a very, very pleasing performance," New Zealand coach Steve Hansen told UK broadcaster ITV after the game. "Everyone from 1-23 brought something to the game and it was nice to get a little monkey off our backs," he added, in reference to his team's previous record against France.
    Defeat against Ireland last Sunday and rumors of mutiny against the management of Saint-Andre during the week spoke of far from ideal preparation for the French.
    Yet the sheer scale of the defeat was still surprising for the side that pushed New Zealand all the way in the final four years ago.
    Kieran Read touches down during the 2015 Rugby World Cup quarterfinal match against France.
    Boos could be heard coming from French supporters as the teams walked round the pitch at the fulltime whistle.
    "The fans are disappointed like us," Saint-Andre said after the match. "But we did the maximum we could do, we worked hard over the last three months, but New Zealand punished each of our mistakes."
    The French blues were of little concern to Hansen, whose team is now just two games away from becoming the first to retain the biggest prize in rugby.
    But there will be little quarter given when the All Blacks meet a familiar foe in next weekend's semifinal.

    South Africa strike late to deny Wales

    Earlier Saturday, a late try from captain Fourie Du Preez was enough to give South Africa a narrow 23-19 victory over a gallant Wales in London.
    Wales led 19-18 with five minutes remaining when Springboks scrumhalf Du Preez took advantage of a magnificent offload from No 8. Duane Vermeulen to squeeze over in the corner.
    "It was a tough game, they came hard at us," Du Preez said after in comments carried by the AFP news agency.
    "We just said to ourselves 'keep pushing, keep pushing.' At one stage I saw some of the guys lying down and I told the guys, 'Look we have to go and fight now,' and the guys produced."
    The boot of flyhalf Handre Pollard scored all of the two-time world champion's other points in the brutally hard-fought battle.
    Pollard's opposite number, Dan Biggar, kicked 14 points for Wales while Gareth Davies touched down with a first-half try for the northern hemisphere nation.
    Wales pushed forward in desperate search of a score that would have taken it into its second consecutive World Cup semifinal in the closing stages. But a staunch South African defense resisted.
    After a shock opening fixture loss to tournament minnows Japan in the group stages, the Springboks now look like an altogether more powerful and mean proposition.
    But the breathless defense, nerveless kicking and attacking ingenuity at pressure moments it displayed Saturday will be required again if it is to triumph against New Zealand next weekend.