All Blacks coach to keep a lid on World Cup campaign
IT WAS a performance that bordered on perfection, but as far as All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was concerned, the only thing the record-breaking 62-10 win over France achieved was to keep his team in the World Cup.
Hansen admitted the victory - the greatest winning margin in a World Cup quarter-final - had been "a pretty special performance", but said "all we have done is earn the right to go training on Monday".
"We haven't won the thing, so we can't get too excited. That would be pointless," he said. "We have played South Africa a lot of times and they are great rivals and we are good mates with them. It's going to be one hell of a contest."
The two old rivals will meet at Twickenham in a semi-final on Sunday morning after the Springboks scored a late try to edge out Wales 23-19.
While South African coach Heyneke Meyer squirmed his way through the nail-biting clash, Hansen at least would have been relaxed early.
Questioned over their lack of intensity and precision in the pool games, the All Blacks didn't so much break their shackles, they smashed them to smithereens.
It was a clinical, ruthless performance and some of the handling - a bit ordinary at times over the past month - was simply breathtaking.
The difference between the two contests could hardly have been greater.
With flyhalf Dan Carter at his best, the All Blacks' backs cut loose - Julian Savea showing his immense pace and power with three tries, the second coming after he went through both his opposite, Noa Nokaitaci, and fullback Scott Spedding.
It came late in the first half and signalled the end of the French challenge.
Going into this game after missing the Tonga match, Savea needed a big performance to send a warning to all of the threat he possesses, and he provided it with a try that was Jonah Lomu-esque in its brutality.
His hat-trick came in the second half, with Tawera Kerr-Barlow scoring a double after replacing Aaron Smith at halfback.
By then the All Blacks were playing for fun. Even the big Irish support in the crowd was impressed.
Jerome Kaino scored, as did Kieran Read after a brilliant break and assist by Charlie Faumuina.
Not to be outdone, prop Joe Moody, a surprise replacement for Wyatt Crockett after only 28 minutes, went on a run and slipped an offload for Kerr-Barlow's second. Brilliant, brilliant stuff; a boost in confidence at just the right time before they face the Boks at Twickenham.