New Zealand reached the World Cup quarter-finals but had an error-strewn performance ©Getty Images

Holders New Zealand reached the knock-out phase of the 2015 Rugby World Cup after seeing off the challenge of a battling Georgia team in their Pool C encounter at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

The All Blacks had been expected to record a comfortable victory over the European minnows and a large winning total looked on the cards almost immediately after winger Waisake Naholo, who cracked his fibula in August, broke through the Georgian defence to secure the first try of the evening.

After fly half Dan Carter had added the conversion the crowd began preparing for another New Zealand assault on the Georgian try line, however the reverse happened as Naholo spilled the ball under pressure allowing Beka Tsiklauri to take advantage.

The Georgian full-back thought quickly and used his feet well to kick beyond the All Blacks’ defence and went over for the try, which following the conversion saw the European team unexpectedly back on level terms.

Naholo’s handling error prior to the try was one of several made by the world champions throughout the duration of the match, partly as a result of uncharacteristically lax play and also due to a dogged Georgian defence, who were keen to close New Zealand’s star players quickly.

However the tournament favourites were always likely to have far too much skill for Georgia and despite the handling errors Julian Savea added two tries before the interval, while Dane Coles added a fourth to secure the bonus point to give New Zealand a 22-10 half-time advantage.

Fierce tackling from the Georgian team put New Zealand's star players under pressure throughout the tie
Fierce tackling from the Georgian team put New Zealand's star players under pressure throughout the tie ©Getty Images

The second half began in similar style to how the first had ended, with New Zealand’s Kieran Read immediately knocking on for a Georgian penalty from the restart and although the defending champions are unbeaten so far at the 2015 World Cup their rivals will have taken heart from a mixed display, which has perhaps highlighted weaknesses.

There was further concern for New Zealand after their captain Richie McCaw sustained a knock, shortly after Read had added a fifth try, which forced him to be replaced.

The All Blacks though would end the match in style as Savea went over to secure his hat-trick and Malakai Fekitoa outpaced the Georgian defence to add further gloss to the final scoreline, with New Zealand eventually running out 43-10.

Having secured their third straight win New Zealand are assured of a quarter-final spot and should they beat Tonga in their final pool match they will earn top spot and will likely face the losers of the Pool D match between Ireland and France.

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