England, New Zealand cruise through quarterfinal stage at Rugby World Cup

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TOKYO, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- Both England and New Zealand cruised past disappointing opposition in a comfortable fashion to reach the semifinals.

In the first of the two quarterfinals played on Saturday, England dispatched Australia 40-16 in the southern city of Oita, while the All Blacks thrashed a disappointing Ireland 46-14 in Tokyo.

Both games were expected to be tight affairs, with both Australia and Ireland boasting favorable records over their rivals.

However, neither Australia nor Ireland played up to expectations, with both sides struggling to cope with the pressure brought on by England and New Zealand respectively.

The opening ten minutes of the England-Australia quarterfinal belonged to Australia. The early pressure inflicted by the Wallabies kept England in their half without possession. Nevertheless, this would the closest Australia would look like troubling England, who would go on to dominate the game in all departments.

The ten minutes of intense pressure on the English try line only yielded a solitary penalty for Australia, and the following ten minutes saw England hit back with two tries through pacey winger Jonny May.

From then on, the Australia side could not cope with the accuracy of the English play. By the half, England was up 14-3 and looking like they were about to run away with the game.

Fearing that the game was slipping away from them, Australia came out the blocks after the break firing. A long kick from Wallaby fly-half Lealiifano sparked a magnificent counter-attack that started with a poor piece of defensive work from English full-back Elliot Daily and finished with a quality pass from Reece Hodge to send over winger Marika Koroibete.

Unfortunately for Australia, this moment of brilliance was just that: a moment. Five minutes later, English prop Kyle Sinckler was sprinting through a huge game in the Australia defense to score and take the score to 22-16.

The next 20 minutes up to the 75th-minute mark, England played a disciplined, controlled game to slowly take the game away from Australia. Kicker Owen Farrell notched up three penalties during that time every time the penalty shot was on offer to him.

With the game gone for Australia, winger Anthony Watson added insult to injury to catch a Wallaby pass to race over for an intercepted try.

At the full time, whistle their whistle, England coach Eddie Jones told reporters that "the good news for us is we can still improve." There were also emotional scenes for the Australian side that said goodbye to two icons of modern Australian rugby, flanker David Pocock and scrum-half Will Genia. It was announced before the tournament that this would be their last appearances for the national side.

Attention in Oita soon turned to the capital as England watched on to find out who would be their opponents in the semifinal.

That question was instantly answered by New Zealand. From the first whistle to the last, New Zealand was the better team.

Poor handling and weaker defense caused the All Blacks' number nine Aaron Smith to punish the Irish sloppy play. The scrum-half was a total handful for the Irish fringe defense and scored two tries himself in the opening 20 minutes to give Ireland a mountain to climb against the tournament favorites.

New Zealand executed their game plan perfectly by not allowing Ireland any possession or territory to play with. Even in the brief periods of Irish possession, they were forced to kick the ball away from their half.

When Beauden Barrett went through to score New Zealand's third try of the first half and make the score 22-0, the game was effectively over and an England-New Zealand semifinal set up for the next week.

Anybody expecting New Zealand to rest on their laurels and let Ireland back into the game was sorely mistaken.

Just eight minutes into the second half and New Zealand were celebrating again, this time after hooker Codie Taylor exposed more lackluster Irish defense.

A try for Matt Todd followed in the 61st minute, and even a Henshaw try for Ireland could not spark a revival for Ireland. With 34-7 on the scoreboard and with ten minutes remaining, Ireland was too far behind.

Another New Zealand try followed to extend the score to 41-7 almost immediately after the Henshaw score.

Despite another Irish try in the final five minutes of the game, it was New Zealand that rubbed yet more salt in the Irish wounds, as Jordie Barrett scored in the final minute of the game.

Like Australia, there was an outpouring of emotion from the Irish team at full time. Irish captain Rory Best brought out his children on the pitch to wave goodbye to the green jersey for one final time.

England will play New Zealand next week for a place in the final of the World Cup. Tomorrow will see host Japan, which has upset the odds at every turn, take on South Africa in a huge clash, while Wales and France will battle it out for the other final semifinal spot. Enditem

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