New Zealand
New Zealand at their sublime best to hammer France in Cardiff.Getty

New Zealand remain on course to defend their Rugby World Cup crown after thrashing France at the Millennium Stadium. The All Blacks hit Les Blues with nine tries as they kicked into top gear in devastating fashion to seal a 62-13 victory and set up a semi-final showdown with South Africa.

Having escaped the pool stage of the competition without playing anywhere near the level approaching their best, Steve Hansen's side exploded into life with Julian Savea scoring twice before half time with Nene Milner-Skudder adding to his tally with a wonderful display of footwork.

France managed to halt New Zealand towards the end of the first half to give themselves a fighting chance of replicating their 2007 quarter-final victory over tonight's opposition through a try from Louis Picamoles.

But the champions emerged for the second half as lethal as they did in the first, with Savea completing hat-trick with Kieran Read, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Jerome Kaino also getting on the act.

Ma'a Nonu, who won his 100th Test cap in the final pool match against Tonga, set the tone for the evening, powering his way towards the try-line minutes into the contest before Retallick scored the first try of the evening.

A penalty from Scott Spedding kept the French in touching distance but Milner-Skudder's outstanding solo effort followed by Savea's second either side of Morgan Parra's penalty ensured the favourites finished the half with a healthy 29-13 lead.

France came from 10 points behind to defeat the All Blacks in 2007 but there was to be no comeback this time around. Just 10 minutes into the half Kaino extended their lead before Savea competed his hat-trick after an hour. After Read scored his side's seventh, Kerr-Barlow capitalised on a weary France side, who were greeted to boos from their own fans after match, to round the evening off with a fine double.