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'Beat NZ? I can't see it': Ireland written off ahead of World Cup quarter-final clash with All Blacks

NZ Herald

How the world media reacted to the All Blacks’ quarter-final draw against Ireland, and Japan beating Scotland.

Ireland v New Zealand quarter-final

It is a struggle to see how this Ireland team can topple a giant – by Shane Horgan of The Times

“Yesterday’s performance was better than the win over Russia but good enough to beat New Zealand or South Africa? I can’t see it.

“Usually, when two of the game’s Tier One nations, you can find one area of advantage which the weaker team on paper can leverage to secure a victory.

“Sometimes it’s something as simple as passion. In the case of this Ireland team up against the world champions or the Springboks next weekend, I’m struggling to identify that chink of opportunity.

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“That took a long time to yield dividends against Samoa so don’t expect it to do much better against the All Blacks.

“This is desperately disappointing because we have a flying machine and a world-class stepper. Neither quality is counting for very much because the pair just aren’t touching the ball enough.”

Why anybody would want suffocating rugby of the Irish to prevail over New Zealand is a mystery – By Stuart Barnes of The Times

“A giant green monster capable of sucking the very air out of a game of rugby. The incremental inch by inch of their pick and drive.

“The patience to pound forward, body length by body length. Leave the lightning footwork to others; CJ and co come at you front on and they keep coming. No wonder Joe Schmidt’s men have beaten the All Blacks twice in recent rugby history.

“For the most part they play a brand of rugby utterly alien to the wide-ranging ambition of the All Blacks. Why any neutral would want this percentage rugby to prevail over the panache of the defending champions is a mystery, other than everyone else’s chances rise when New Zealand fall.”

We’ve seen nothing to suggest last-eight success – just the way Schmidt would want it – by Brendan Fanning of The Independent

“Nothing we’ve seen since the Scotland game would incline turf accountants towards making Ireland even money against New Zealand.

“That won’t bother him unduly. Schmidt is so sure about everything he does that he remains mostly unaffected by what happens outside the team bubble. And what does resonate with him is not to a point where he’s sweeping all the paperwork off the table and telling the lads it’s time to start again.”

New Zealand v Ireland – By Christy Doran of Fox Sports Australia

“Despite winning two of their past three matchups against the world champions, the All Blacks are heavy favourites against Ireland.

“Despite a comprehensive 27-3 win over Scotland in their opening pool match, Ireland’s shock 19-12 loss to Japan showed that they hadn’t yet rediscovered their mojo.

“Yet, with Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray in the halves and a disciplined and experienced side around them Ireland can’t be written off.”

Japan beats Scotland

Japan hang on to reach Rugby World Cup last eight and send Scotland out – by Robert Kitson of The Guardian

“Some results deserve to be lit up in neon and this historic victory for Japan was one of them. Never before has any team from Asia reached the quarter-finals of a Rugby World Cup, let alone played such an inspirational brand of rugby.

“This was not just an emotional occasion for the host nation but an electrifying moment for the global game as a whole.

“And it was Scotland who were on the receiving end. It was less a case of them playing or defending poorly and more another object lesson in Japanese excellence.”

Japan’s victory over Scotland was brilliant, breathless and beautiful – by Mick Cleary of The Telegraph

“After the devastation, the delirium. After the doubt, the certainty.

Japan laid to rest any qualms about their right to compete among the elite, applied some balm to local grief after Typhoon Hagibis had done its worst, made us all appreciate the fact that the game was taking place at all with a performance that made the heart skip and the soul sing to go through to a quarter-final against South Africa in Tokyo next Sunday, the first time Japan has ever reached the promised land.

“It was a gilt-edged performance. Japan progress, Scotland depart, a clinical summation of a full-blooded occasion.”

Scotland knocked out after being stunned by hosts Japan in Yokohama thriller – by Adam Hathaway of The Independent

“They are light years ahead of the side that beat the Springboks in 2015 as head coach Jamie Joseph has made them tactically smart.

“That win over South Africa was all about hanging in and being brave in the last few minutes, it might never happen again.

“This and their win over Ireland were never in doubt. They were the better side on both occasions and might give the Boks a rattle in the quarter-finals.”

Quarter-final draw

• England v Australia, Saturday, 8.15pm, Oita

• All Blacks v Ireland, Saturday, 11.15pm, Tokyo

• Wales v France, Sunday, 8.15pm, Oita

• Japan v South Africa, Sunday 11.15pm, Tokyo

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and was republished with permission.

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'Beat NZ? I can't see it': Ireland written off ahead of World Cup quarter-final clash with All Blacks