Rugby World Cup: Below-par All Blacks edge plucky Georgia

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New Zealand are the first team to secure a place in the quarter-finals.

New Zealand moved into the World Cup quarter-finals by predictably beating Georgia in bonus-point fashion – but it was a performance laced with errors.

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And they appeared to suffer an injury scare when skipper Richie McCaw made a 60th-minute exit after being on the receiving end of a crunching tackle and immediately had ice appplied to two separate areas on his leg, summing up New Zealand’s night.

The world champion All Blacks’ 43-10 Millennium Stadium triumph tightened their grip on Pool C and secured a last-eight spot, yet coach Steve Hansen will have been left totally unimpressed.

But the biggest cheers among a 69,000 crowd were reserved for Georgia, whose captain and flanker Mamuka Gorgodze was named man of the match.

Full-back Beka Tsiklauri claimed an early breakaway try while fly-half Lasha Malaguradze outshone his celebrated opposite number Dan Carter in the goalkicking department.

It took New Zealand just 73 seconds to open up Georgia’s defence, as slick midfield passing resulted in Naholo powering through a huge gap to touch down unopposed, with Carter’s conversion making it 7-0.

Georgia, though, responded just three minutes later by scoring the quickest try in their World Cup history when Tsiklauri reacted rapidly to a bouncing ball in open play, made the most of his good fortune and finished off in style.

The score sparked wild celebrations among his team-mates, with Malaguradze’s conversion pegging back New Zealand, but the All Blacks were back in front three minutes later when Savea bundled over Tsiklauri for a trademark try.

Malaguradze kicked a penalty from just inside New Zealand’s half to cut the deficit, but the All Blacks went in to overdrive as Savea scored again before a brilliant handling move ended with McCaw delivering a scoring pass to Coles.

Carter missed his third successive conversion attempt, but the world champions had a try-scoring bonus point inside 23 minutes and appeared well on their way to a landslide win.

But the first-half’s remaining 18 minutes belonged to Georgia, whose scrummaging prowess had New Zealand in all kinds of trouble and their aggressive defence – illustrated through one crunching tackle by centre Davit Kacharava on All Blacks full-back Ben Smith – prevented further tries before the break.

It was a mighty effort by the underdogs, who showed no sign of being overawed by the occasion, as New Zealand’s early class and supremacy was mysteriously replaced by a disjointed, error-strewn display.

Carter was as guilty as most, taking wrong options and handling poorly, while centre Sonny Bill Williams was not much better.

Only when the All Blacks moved possession wide did they look threatening, and Georgia were more than happy to find themselves still firmly in the game midway through the third quarter.

Right on cue, New Zealand added a fifth try – albeit 30 minutes after their bonus-point score – when Read powered over from close range, and Carter’s straightforward conversion took New Zealand 19 points clear.

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Jebel Ali Dragons Ross Samson and Xander van der Westhuizen look ahead to Scotland vs South Africa in the Rugby World Cup.

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Farrell vows England will fight for Lancaster

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Farrell during training.

Owen Farrell has vowed to "fight for what we have here" to protect Stuart Lancaster's tenure and keep England's World Cup dream alive.

Fly-half Farrell branded former England captain Will Carling's midweek barbs as "irrelevant" ahead of facing a do-or-die World Cup clash with Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.

Carling claimed head coach Lancaster treats England "like schoolboys", leading Farrell to lambast pundits "just passing comments that don't really mean anything".

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Lancaster's job will be on the line if England lose to Australia and become the worst-performing host nation in World Cup history by failing to qualify for the quarter-finals.

"It's all about winning this weekend, building a performance to put us in the place to win this game – if not we're out of this tournament," said Farrell.

"We've got to fight for what we have here, which is important to us. The only way to do that is to prepare the best we can and put us in the best place we can be. It's definitely the game of our lives.

"I don't get how they (pundits) comment like that, how they think they know what goes on inside this camp. But that's for them to say.

"All we know is what goes on in here and that's all we concentrate on to be honest. It doesn't matter what people say on the outside.

"I didn't hear about it until the lads got questioned about it here. It's irrelevant to us. There's always going to be people coming out and trying to say what they think. But I think it's easy to be negative, especially after a loss obviously."

England's galling 28-25 defeat to Wales at Twickenham last weekend leaves their World Cup hopes hanging by a thread.

Lancaster's men will face huge pressure against a resurgent Australia side, boasting twin breakdown specialists David Pocock and Michael Hooper in their starting XV.

England twice led by 10 points in the second half against Wales, but were unable to close out the victory, leading to a barrage of criticism labelled at boss Lancaster and captain Chris Robshaw.

Playmaker Farrell admitted frustrations with brickbats aimed at Lancaster, insisting the England squad are united behind their boss.

Farrell believes the England squad still owe Lancaster a great debt for reinstalling high levels of humility among the nation's top stars.

"We've got massive respect for Stuart," said Farrell.

"I think he did things in the right way from the start. He laid some solid foundations and got a culture that means a lot to us.

"That makes us want to play for each other and want to fight for each other. On top of that he's brought a lot back about what the shirt means for us.

"Everyone's proud to be English and play for England and this team, for the country, their families and friends. There's a lot of history in this shirt and we've got to make sure we do that justice."

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