Rugby World Cup: Ireland welcome mouthwatering quarter-final match-up against All Blacks

Ireland's impressive win over Scotland in their pool finale has finally cemented the quarter-final match-up fans and players alike have anticipated.

As Pool B winners, the Irish advance to face second-placed Pool A finishers New Zealand in a heavyweight clash that promises to set the tournament alight.

The world No.1 have never made it past the last eight at the tournament and now face the three-time champions with a chance to make history as the first team from the Emerald Isle to win a World Cup knockout match.

The two sides met in the 2019 quarter-finals in Japan, where the All Blacks raced to a 46-14 demolition, but the Irish have all the momentum against their southern foes, after winning three of their last four meetings - including last year's groundbreaking first test series win on NZ soil.

"It's what dreams are made of," said Ireland coach Andy Farrell, after their 36-14 pool win over the Scots at Paris.

Ireland coach Andy Farrell.
Ireland coach Andy Farrell. Photo credit: Getty Images

"As far as a quarter-final is concerned, it doesn't get any tougher. The respect we have got for New Zealand is through the roof and hopefully they have got a bit of respect for us."

The Irish ruthlessly took their chances against the Scots, scoring six tries to two in a contest that was over by the three-quarter mark, allowing Farrell the luxury of pulling his key players early - including skipper Johnny Sexton.

"This is where we want to be now - in a quarter-final against the toughest opposition we could get," said Sexton.

Despite a fourth pool win of the tournament - and 17th straight in all tests - Farrell insists his team have not played their best rugby yet in France

Funnily enough, a win at Paris next weekend would see them equal New Zealand's record for tier one test nations of 18 consecutive victories.

"I don't think - and neither does the team think - that we have played our best rugby," Farrell said. "We know where we want to go and what we want to achieve.

"Will we ever get there? I don't know, but it's days like next week that are coming, where we need to find out a bit more about ourselves, and these lads are more than willing to do that."

Ireland, who have never won a knockout match at a World Cup, dismantled a Scottish side also looking to advance to the knockout stages, setting the tone with a try inside the opening two minutes to wing James Lowe, created by a break from outstanding centre Gary Ringrose. He also set up Hugo Keenan for his team's second.

Ringrose finished the game running 57 metres – behind only Irish double tryscorer Keenan - and with three clean breaks.

"I thought our first-phase attack was as good as it's been for quite some time, which was great for us, but a hammer blow for them," Farrell added. "The way we attacked the Scottish line was clinical."

They had to get through a period of sustained pressure from the Scots after their first try and Farrell thought the way they held firm, then struck back at the other end, was the key to the match. 

"When you see how we were clinical and add how we were defending, it is a shot in the arm for us and a hammer blow for the other team," Farrell said.

There are a few injury concerns for Ireland to negotiate. NZ-born wing Lowe departed early with a "bang to the eye" that Farrell seems confident won’t cause any long-term issues, although winger Mack Hansen (concussion) and James Lowe (wrist) were also forced off the pitch.

Join Newshub at 8am, Sunday for live updates of the World Cup quarter-final between the All Blacks and Ireland