New Zealand players celebrate with double try scorer Julian Savea after thrashing the French 62-13 in the second quarter-final played at the Millennium Stadium.

Defending champions New Zealand answered any lingering questions about its apparent lack of form by scoring nine tries in a record 62-13 Rugby World Cup quarterfinal win over France.

Left winger Julian Savea led the way with a superb hat-trick as the All Blacks secured the biggest winning margin in a World Cup quarter-final, eclipsing the mark set by South Africa in 1995 with a 42-14 win over Samoa.

New Zealand will play a semi-final next weekend against the Springboks and, on this form, will be a hot favourite.

The All Blacks were questioned repeatedly in the lead-up to the Cardiff match about the corresponding quarter-final at Millennium Stadium eight years ago, when New Zealand was beaten 20-18 by France at the same stage, on the same ground.

This time, the French were 29-13 down at the break and it just got worse.

Four years ago, under former coach Marc Lievremont, France pushed New Zealand all the way in the final before losing 8-7 in Auckland.

By the end of this match, the All Blacks were chasing their own record margin against the French: which was a 61-10 defeat in 2007.

It should have happened, but centre Ma’a Nonu, in his desperation to get among the try scorers, fumbled the ball as he crossed the line minutes from fulltime.

He could afford to laugh it off.

But the French won’t be smiling and nor will the Springboks, who edged Wales 23-19 with a late try in the corner at Twickenham.

In Cardiff, it was hard to keep track of the score as replacement scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow came off the bench to add two late tries.

The other tries came from lock Brodie Retallick and Nehe Milner-Skudder in the first half, and No 8 Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino in the second.

No 8 Louis Picamoles scored France’s try in the first half, briefly giving his team hope of catching the All Blacks, but was sin-binned early into the second half.

Philippe Saint-Andre was loudly jeered by the dejected French fans in the crowd as his fractious and unpopular spell as France coach came to an end on a night when Les Bleus became Les Miserables.