NEW Zealand last night gave England an ominous warning of what probably lies ahead after they ruthlessly ended Scotland’s World Cup dream.
With an intoxicating mix of power and panache, the holders eased into next Saturday’s semi-final at Wembley where they will face Steve McNamara’s side or France.
Scotland, who had won so many supporters with their unbeaten run into the last eight, never let up and earned reward for their efforts with Alex Hurst’s smartly-crafted 64th-minute try after Danny Brough’s 40/20.
It certainly brought the biggest cheer of the night from the Headingley crowd of 16,207 – another positive attendance for World Cup organisers – but in the end the chasm in class was obvious.
More worryingly for the Bravehearts was their announcement just hours before kick-off that as of last night – along with the other Celtic nations – they had lost their RFL funding.
It will be a shame if the progress they have made in recent weeks to enjoy their best World Cup to date is undone by such financial concerns.
On the pitch, it was another night of brutal defence, typical of this World Cup, with both sides having a player laid out in the opening exchanges.
Unfortunately for Scotland, Sonny Bill Williams was able to continue after bending his neck awkwardly in one collision that required lengthy treatment.
That said, there is so much talent in this New Zealand side, it would have mattered little whether the gifted second-row had departed or not.
In the end, he stayed on for half-hour, his last involvement being a massive fend in midfield that allowed Shaun Johnson to scurry away for their fifth try and a 26-0 lead.
Matty Russell was the Scotland player who found his chin being firmly directed to the turf in the opening minutes but, as the night progressed, there were to be plenty more like him.
Steve McCormack’s spirited side just ran out of ways of trying to stop the juggernauts they encountered, particularly in a devastating first period.
The Bravehearts, led out by former Leeds winger David Rose, who won the inaugural World Cup with Great Britain in 1954, started brightly when forcing two drop-outs in the opening six minutes.
But they were unable to make either situation pay and New Zealand soon showed them how to be clinical.
Slippery winger Roger Tuivasa-Sheck took his tournament tally to six with a brace while centre Bryson Goodwin (2), the formidable winger Manu Vatuvei, Jesse Bromwich and Frank Pritchard also crossed, Johnson adding four goals.
New Zealand: Locke; Tuivasa-Sheck, Whare, Goodwin, Vatuvei; Foran, Johnson; Matulino, Luke, Bromwich, Pritchard, Williams, Mannering. Substitutes: Taylor, Waerea-Hargreaves, Nu’uausala, Moa.
Scotland: Russell; Scott, Hellewell, Linnett, Hurst; Brough, Wallace; Walker, I Henderson, Douglas, Addy, B Phillips, Kavanagh. Substitutes: A Henderson, Wilkes, Szostak, S Barlow.
Referee: Ben Cummins (Australia).