Early nerves made way for high levels of confidence and some great gifs, as the All Blacks had the French crying out for mercy and a punch somehow became a "push with a fist".

All Blacks fans went into the match this morning with a whole lot of nervous energy, hoping to avoid a repeat of 2007's disastrous quarter-final - also against the French at Millennium Stadium, but thankfully with a very different result.

"Feeling anxious/nervous/excited/pumped for this game. Pub is pumping here in the Octagon. Bring it on," wrote Jaimie from Dunedin.

Others had a drink on hand to combat the nerves.


But it seems the nerves were unfounded, as the All Blacks quickly took the lead against the French with a try from Brodie Retallick - who looked especially stoked as he scored. As it happened, an "entire nation sighs in relief" according to Evan Samuel.

As always, the All Blacks hairstyles received a lot of attention - it seems some of the more unfortunate cuts of the last few weeks have grown out to reach that sweet, stylish spot.

And perhaps Savea's cartoonish quiff was the secret to his success? "I think Savea's quiff makes him extra streamlined so he can run faster," Lauren Williams theorised.

Despite a decent advantage by half-time, Kiwi fans didn't want to get over-confident.

"Relax when the lead is greater than 33," wrote Toby Manhire - who's recent Herald column confused a few All Blacks fans with its depth of satire.

"Mustn't get cocky, this coq au vin could yet become a cock up," added another tweeter.

The most controversial moment of the match, when French No 8 Louis Picamoles was sinbinned for punching - sorry, pushing with his fist - skipper Richie McCaw, predictably drew a huge reaction online.

"I wish I'd thought of that when I was told off for fighting with my brother as a kid," wrote another fan in response to the odd call.


The reaction to Julian "The Bus" Savea's tries definitely secured his well-deserved position as man of the match - with many comparing his impressive performance and bump-offs to the legendary Jonah Lomu.

"Savea just earned the right to shave '11' into his eyebrow," wrote Victoria Tupou. Indeed, he has - "Julian Savea ties Jonah Lomu for test tries - quite an apt try to do it with," wrote Niall Anderson.

Bryan Habana of the Springboks also offered his congratulations to Savea.

And he was even compared to " someone's older brother who'd already hit puberty would come and ruin our matches on the green".

With the second half well underway and the All Blacks well, well, well in front, the collective nerves of New Zealand appeared to be well vanquished.

"I swear the All Blacks were just trolling the whole world by playing badly in the pool matches. And now this. Boom." wrote Craig Robertson.


"Steve Hanson doesn't need to watch All Blacks - I think he's playing candy crush," observed Paul Phillips.

And Act MP David Seymour decided to go for another coq joke.

As French fans began to leave the stadium, at least it seems the French media had a sense of humour - and a strong gif game.

The pros were quick to congratulate the All Blacks as the game ended.

"Yep, I'm calling it. The @AllBlacks machine has just landed in #RWC2015," wrote former Wallaby Stirling Mortlock. "It's taken all the pool matches but the real ABs R here!!#freakish"

"Pleasure to watch New Zealand tonight - not unbeatable but it will take a very, very good 80 minute performance to do so," was former England player Brian Moore's assessment.


English billionaire Richard Branson also had strong praise for the All Blacks.

Jonah Lomu also offered his congratulations, tweeting that the game was "All Blacks rugby at its best".

And at the end of the game, a mangled gingerbread man in a French jersey summed the whole thing up perfectly.

- nzherald.co.nz