New Zealand driving Ireland back. They still have it.
It's pretty exciting; we're right where we want to be. Hansen said last year's encounter was a "titanic struggle" and Ireland was slightly better on the day. Both teams are in good nick — fresh, excited.
Ireland go into the quarterfinal on the back of a much more emphatic win over Samoa on Saturday, achieved with only 14 men. That gives Ireland the better preparation, leaving New Zealand to do the bulk of its lead-up work on the training field. Ireland first-five Johnny Sexton was hopeful that Ireland's upset loss to Japan was the bad game they needed to get out of their system before the knockout rounds.
Ireland has lost quarterfinals at the last two World Cups after being dominant in the pool stage. The fact they've beaten New Zealand twice since the last World Cup was also a boost. New Zealand and Japan will both attempt to play an adventurous style, while Ireland and South Africa will attempt to slow down the game.
That may be an over-simplification but the evidence of the tournament to date is that Ireland may rely strongly on a pick-and-go style, on box kicking and on a swift defensive line.
The All Blacks showed a new ability to outflank rush defense in their pool win over South Africa but haven't been able to build on that in group matches against weaker opponents. New Zealand's high-tempo style often takes several matches each season to develop both in timing and accuracy.
Their almost two-week layoff threatens a return of the rustiness they showed at the start of this season. At the same time, Ireland does not appear to be as strong as they were last year when it won 11 or 12 tests, beat the All Blacks, won the Six Nations title and was named World Rugby Team of the Year.
Its tactical focus has narrowed and it has become more forward-oriented and one-dimensional. Because both teams and coaches know each other well, there are likely to be subtle changes in tactics and systems on Saturday.
All Blacks captain Kieran Read said his team had not been adversely affected by their longer than expected break before the quarter-finals.
Their systems are strongly bedded in, their fitness is beyond question and they had used their downtime productively. Beauden Barrett, Sevu Reece, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, 9.
Aaron Smith, 8. Kieran Read c , 7. Sam Cane, 6. Ardie Savea, 5.
Samuel Whitelock, 4. Brodie Retallick, 3. Nepo Laulala, 2. Codie Taylor, 1. Joe Moody.
Reserves: Dane Coles, Ofa Tuungafasi, Angus Ta'avao, Scott Barrett, Matt Todd, TJ Perenara, Sonny Bill Williams, Jordie Barrett Ireland: Rob Kearney, Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Jacob Stockdale, Johnny Sexton, 9.
Conor Murray, 8. CJ Stander, 7. Josh Van der Flier, 6. Peter O'Mahony, 5. James Ryan, 4. Iain Henderson, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 2.
Rory Best c , 1. Cian Healy. Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Beirne, Rhys Ruddock, Luke McGrath, Joey Carbery, Jordan Larmour How to watch: The Herald will be live blogging the match, with build-up from 9am.