All Blacks overcome bogey team France to reach Rugby World Cup quarterfinals

Israel Dagg goes over to score the first of his two tries against France at the Rugby World Cup on Saturday.

Story highlights

  • New Zealand beat France 37-17 to reach Rugby World Cup quarterfinals
  • All Blacks have maximimum points after three of four Group A matches
  • Second-placed France likely to play England in the last eight of tournament
  • England thrash Romania 67-3, scoring 10 tries, to move clear at top of Group B
Four years ago a shock defeat by France sent a rugby-mad nation into mourning, but New Zealand's All Blacks erased some of that hurt with a comprehensive 37-17 vanquishing of their longtime bogey team on Saturday.
Captain Richie McCaw looked a broken man after the 2007 World Cup quarterfinal defeat in Cardiff, but he was able to celebrate his 100th international appearance in style as the Kiwis lived up to their status as tournament favorites on home soil in Auckland and reached the quarterfinals.
"We realized we had to take a step up this week," the flanker told the tournament website after victory against a nation who also ended New Zealand's 1999 World Cup hopes in the semifinals.
"We had to absorb a fair bit early on and I was proud of the way the boys did that. When we got the opportunity we put the points on the board. The boys held their cool, and when we had a chance we took it. I'm very happy with the way things went."
No. 8 Adam Thomson and wing Cory Jane scored inside the first 20 minutes, then fullback Israel Dagg dotted down either side of halftime to give New Zealand a 29-3 advantage.
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France, losing semifinalists in 2007, showed some steel with tries to Maxime Mermoz and replacement Francois Trinh-Duc but NZ substitute Sonny Bill Williams crossed late to seal victory.
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The bonus point gave the All Blacks a maximum 15 points from three Group A outings ahead of their final match against Canada on October 2.
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France's Les Bleus still have a five-point advantage over third-placed Tonga, who they meet the previous day.
Marc Lievremont's team will likely play England in the last eight after Martin Johnson's men responded to stinging criticism from their coach to thrash Romania 67-3 earlier on Saturday and take control of Group B.
Johnson, a World Cup winner as a player in 2003, was unhappy with unimpressive victories over Argentina and Georgia but this time his players delivered with 10 tries in Dunedin to seal a last-eight spot as one of the pool's top two teams.
Wingers Mark Cueto and Chris Ashton both scored three tries against the under-strength Romanians, who face East European rivals Georgia in their final match.
England close against "Auld Enemy" Scotland, who have struggled so far in the tournament and face a tough test against 2007 semifinalists Argentina on Sunday in a match that will have a big bearing on the group.
"In some aspects of the game, we didn't really get tested," Johnson said.
"Next week is going to be a different game. This was what it was and we did a job. Next week it really starts, because it will be a scrap."