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Five things we learned from New Zealand v France

Published 17/10/2015

New Zealand's well-oiled machine makes them favourites to become the first country to win the World Cup three times.
New Zealand's well-oiled machine makes them favourites to become the first country to win the World Cup three times.

New Zealand put France to the sword in their World Cup quarter-final in Cardiff, winning 62-13.

Here, Press Association Sport takes at look at five things we learned from the match.

ALL BLACKS HAVE GONE UP A GEAR

The pool stages were never going to test New Zealand too much, even if Argentina did give them an early scare in their tournament opener. It was always going to be at the business end of the competition that we were going to see the best of the reigning champions and they duly delivered by displaying their ruthless efficiency with nine tries. The worry for those remaining is that they appear to have a lot more in their locker.

SAVEA IS THE NEW LOMU

The way All Blacks wing Julian Savea ran over French defenders for his second try was uncannily reminiscent of Jonah Lomu's unstoppable scores at the 1995 World Cup. Like his towering predecessor, Savea doesn't bother going around defenders if he can run right through them. He left Noa Nakaitaci and Scott Spedding in a heap before fending off prop Rabah Slimani and completed his fourth Test hat-trick as he underlined his credentials to be the star of the 2015 World Cup.

NO ORDINARY SMITHS

Three Smiths in the New Zealand back line might suggest a common touch. But nothing could be further from the truth as this trio of Smiths stand above the ordinary. Full-back Ben was immense under the high ball, be it in defence or attack, centre Conrad was at his hard-running best and scrum-half Aaron now has strong claims to be the best in the world with vision and running ability making him so difficult to defend against.

FRANCE IN A MESS

Will the real France stand up is a familiar cry. Well, they have - and it has not made for pretty viewing. Years of under-achievement have ended with a sorry World Cup campaign, soundly beaten by Ireland and embarrassed by New Zealand. Pre-game talk of mutiny had dominated the build-up and more scandal might emerge following coach Philippe Saint-Andre's exit. The new France coach, Guy Noves, has a major job on his hands to restore pride in French rugby.

THREE'S THE MAGIC NUMBER

No team has won the World Cup three times but that statistic will surely be put to bed in the next fortnight. South Africa and New Zealand, both twice winners of the competition, will meet in one semi-final and two-time winners Australia are favourites to get through to the final in the other half of the draw. No team has defended the trophy successfully, but New Zealand look well placed to end that curious record having racked up the most points in their history against France.

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