Rugby World Cup: Ireland victory lights fire in All Blacks bellies as semi-final against Argentina awaits

The rest of the world better take notice, the All Blacks are not done.

With a 28-24 victory to eliminate world No.1 Ireland from the Rugby World Cup in France, they can no longer claim to be outsiders.

Without question, New Zealand delivered their best performance of the Ian Foster era to book a semi-final berth against southern hemisphere rivals Argentina next week.

Ardie Savea celebrates.
Ardie Savea celebrates. Photo credit: Getty Images

From before kickoff, when the haka was drowned out by Irish supporters, to the final whistle, the All Blacks had to battle at the Stade de France - but battle they did.

Ireland, a team that's had the wood on them for most of the past seven years, since a historic 2016 win at Chicago, could not match their nemeses in what's quickly becoming one of the game's premier rivalries.

Since the lopsided draw for this year's tournament was made, a collision course among the game's top four sides was inevitable, with Ireland the first casualty.

On Monday (NZ time), either South Africa or hosts France will have joined them, as the final four takes shape.

Few would have predicted the All Blacks to be the first of those teams to progress, especially given some of the lows of the Foster era, but for the team, no stone was left unturned in ensuring Ireland remains winless in Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

"I'm just over the moon," said first-five Richie Mo'unga. "When I think back to the last two years and what we've been through as a team, everyone wrote us off.

"I said earlier in the week, we had to be the best on the day. That was really true in the way we prepped.

"We targeted this game, we really wanted to make a mark, come with an intensity that was hopefully overwhelming for them."

Without question, the magnitude of this victory is only enhanced by the quality of the All Blacks' opponents. Ireland are ranked as the world's best for a reason.

Before Sunday, Andy Farrell's side had won 17 consecutive test matches - a run now bookended by the All Blacks.  

Make no mistake, the All Blacks have given another reminder that, on their day, few teams can get near them.  

Next week, they'll face the Pumas, who scraped past Wales to reach the last four. If both sides play at the same level they did on Sunday, there should be no contest.

The All Blacks' next assignment is recreating what they did against Ireland," explains Mo'unga. "We played an 80 minute game with two yellow cards - that itself speaks volumes of the team.

"The next challenge now is how consistent can we be? How can we put that in back-to-back performances?  

"There's a bit of fire in everyone's belly in wanting to do exactly that, fulfill the potential of this team.

"Who knows, if we do that, the outcome is to win the World Cup. That's what we want to try and do."

With the semi-final scheduled for Saturday (NZ time), the All Blacks have a shorter week to prepare for Los Pumas.

With such a huge build-up to Ireland, players readjusting will be a challenge for Foster and his coaching staff.

Richie Mo'unga runs.
Richie Mo'unga runs. Photo credit: Getty Images

With the prize of winning a World Cup unchanged, Mo'unga says the All Blacks won't take long to get back to work.  

"We've got to get back to sub-zero, reset and then it's about building that fire again," he said.

"It's still there. We targeted this game, but the ultimate goal is still the World Cup.

"We know what we have to do to get there and that [starts] next week."

Join Newshub at 8am Saturday for live updates of the All Blacks v Argentina World Cup semi-final