Cup hopes go south
By DAVE JAMES
NEW Zealand, Australia and South Africa may not have been at their destructive best, but all three southern hemisphere giants have kept up their unbeaten World Cup records.
The All Blacks, the overwhelming favourites to end a 20-year wait for a second world title, ran in six tries in a 40-0 romp over a second-string Scotland side on Sunday.
They wrapped up Pool C and will meet the runner-up from Pool D either Argentina, France or Ireland for a semi-final spot.
Australia made sure of top spot in Pool B with a 55-12 win over Fiji and awaitseither defending champions England or Tonga in the last eight.
Little Tonga pushed South Africa, and scored three tries, before being edged out 30-25 in a pulsating clash in Lens on Saturday.
The Springboks, who opted to field their B-team, made sure of top spot in Pool A and face either Wales or Fiji for a place in the semi-finals.
At Murrayfield, Doug Howlett became the leading try-scorer in All Blacks history as New Zealand strolled into the quarter-finals.
The 29-year-old wing claimed two of his team's six tries, taking his personal tally for his country to 48, two more than the previous record he had briefly shared with Christian Cullen.
It was a far from vintage performance from New Zealand, whose finishing lacked the cut-throat edge displayed in their previous wins over Italy and Portugal.
Scotland will be back at full strength to face Italy in its final group match on Saturday in St Etienne, a match that will decide which of them joins the All Blacks in the last eight.
"We're pretty happy," said All Blacks coach Graham Henry.
"We had a really big week on the set piece and we came through well.
"I think we scrummed the best we have in the tournament. Defensively we were good and offensively we scored six tries, although we blew a few through errors so that was a little disappointing."
In Montpellier, Wallabies coach John Connolly was content for Australia to register a half century of points against Fiji and claim a quarter-final place, but said there was room for improvement.
George Gregan, who led his country for the 59th time to equal the international Test captaincy record held by England's Will Carling, said credit was due to Fiji.
"... they came out very spirited and they are very proud nation. The Pacific island teams have shown that this week and that's certainly what their game was today," he said.