Anticipation high for outstanding World Cup semifinal

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A sampling of coverage of the All Blacks 46-14 win over Ireland and thoughts on next weekend's semifinal are listed below.


Neil Francis – The Sunday Independent (Ireland)


"The question has to be asked about this New Zealand side – which is far from a vintage New Zealand side – is how many dimensions can they play in? They play with a gift of simplicity and they have an all-purpose, all-court game; principally they won every collision yesterday and the manner in which they stopped Ireland's runners was violent, yet it personified calmness. New Zealand's runners went about their job in a dispassionate, cold-blooded manner. They knew from the off that Ireland's first-up tackles lacked the mental will needed to stop them at the gainline and so after only a few minutes the game was up. There would only be one winner…Outside of [Richie] Mo'unga we saw Beauden Barrett (pictured) in his element, the only footballer I know who can throw a seven with one die. I've never seen a player so aware of the possibilities when he is in possession. It was a marvel to behold what he could do and his ascension and matriculation into the best player in the world has been one of measured certainty."


Sir Clive Woodward – The Mail on Sunday


"Never underestimate the value of momentum. England may face a massive task in tackling holders New Zealand but they have built up a huge head of steam after that emphatic quarterfinal win over Australia. Everything is coming to the boil nicely and sometime soon this England side is going to produce a performance for the ages. This Saturday would be the perfect time…England unquestionably have more gears and they will need them against an in-form New Zealand who were irresistible against, it has to be said, an extremely poor Ireland team who confirmed rumours of their decline. New Zealand were superb but in truth they haven't yet been fully tested in this tournament since their opening game against the Springboks a month ago."

Sir Ian McGeechan – The Sunday Telegraph


"England and New Zealand's unexpectedly emphatic wins over Australia and Ireland respectively were unmistakable statements of intent by teams operating at the very peak of their powers. With the sides sharing so many attributes and qualities, Saturday's match in Yokohama should be a phenomenal encounter which would have made a wonderful final…Both are top-quality sides who have a variety of ball-carriers, use a range of channels, vary their kicking game, have great defensive line speed, and get back into position well after each breakdown. It will be a fascinating tactical duel as the two sides kick to try to dominate field position."


The Rugby Paper


"The All Blacks played with pace and accuracy that would have buried any team and still some of them claimed they had left a few scores out there. As good as the Kiwis were in attack they were equally good in defence, knocking the Irish back from the word go and missing one tackle out of 75 in the first half. But it has to be put on record that Ireland did not turn up, hardly landed a blow and were second best al evening long at the collisions…Beauden Barrett put in a staggering performance at fullback but any number of New Zealanders could have won the man of the match award."


Stephen Jones, The Sunday Times


"England versus New Zealand at Tokyo Stadium [sic] on Saturday. Colossal. Name me any true sports followers who will not watch it. It could represent the high point of the careers of many participants, because it is the classic confrontation between north and south, between two nations brought together in times of war but whose surface dislike when it comes to sport, and especially rugby, can be marked. And yet for only one of the teams will there be the chance of an even higher peak…Eddie Jones has enough up his sleeve and at his disposal to make it a ferocious contest. Now he has finally chosen his first team, a mere four years after arriving, they are more than a match for most."


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