Tietjens: Sevens balance of power has changed

19:16, Feb 03 2013
Wellington Sevens
Levi Asifa'amatala of Samoa charges forward during the Pool C match between Samoa and South Africa.
Wellington Sevens
Adam Thomas of Wales scores a try in the tackle of Nathan Hirayama of Canada.
Wellington Sevens
Frankie Horne of South Africa runs the ball.
Wellington Sevens 2013 rugby action
ama Fou of Australia runs into score during the Pool D match between Portugal and Australia.
Wellington Sevens 2013 rugby action
Duarte Moreira and Pedro Bettencourt of Portugal secure the ball during the Pool D match between Portugal and Australia.
New Zealand Sevens
RUNAWAY: Mat Turner of England makes a break past the defence of Tomasi Cama of New Zealand on his way to scoring a try.
New Zealand Sevens
New Zealand's DJ Forbes is tackled by England's Tom Powell.
New Zealand Sevens
New Zealand's Kurt Baker is tackled by England's Marcus Watson.
Belgium Tuatagaloa
Belgium Tuatagaloa of the All Blacks Sevens makes a break during the Pool A match between New Zealand and Spain.
Belgium Tuatagaloa
New Zealand's Ben Lam in action in their game with Australia.
Belgium Tuatagaloa
New Zealand's Ben Lam in action fends off an Australian attack.
Belgium Tuatagaloa
New Zealand's Lote Raikabula tackles Australia's Martin Chiappeson.
Belgium Tuatagaloa
New Zealand's Ben Lam in action.
Belgium Tuatagaloa
New Zealand's Ben Lam is tackled by Australia's Pama Fou.
Kenya
Kenya celebrate after defeating New Zealand in the Cup semifinal.
DJ Forbes
A dejected New Zealand sevens team, led by captain DJ Forbes, trudge off Westpac Stadium after losing to Kenya in the semifinal.

Kenya's brave, brave run in Wellington was no flash in the pan and New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens says fans should get used to the changing face of world sevens.

Never before have New Zealand fans seen their side pushed so hard in pool play during its home leg of the IRB World Series tournament.

The Kiwis were beaten by England and bustled by the United States in pool play, then dumped out by losing finalists Kenya 19-14 in the semifinals.

Wellington Sevens 2013: Costumes
Costumed Sevens fans, left to right, Shaun Blaygrove, Craig Cogan, Andrew Robinson, and Alistair Henwood.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Costumes
Tui cans and a breathalyzer, left to right, Matt Lewis, Sam Phillips, Damien Cameron, Andrew Cameron, and Pete Rathod.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Costumes
Costumed Sevens fans hit the city early.
Wellington Sevens costume
Dressed as Patrick and Spongebob Squarepants are, from left, Sue and Paul Smith from Nelson.
Wellington Sevens costume
A group of Fruit Bursts leaving for the Sevens.
Wellington Sevens costume
Kylie Achilles and Travers Hart arrive at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens costume
Simon and Charlotte McGillen arrive at Westpac Stadium, dressed as anime characters Goku and Sailor Moon.
Wellington Sevens costume
The Avengers, or at least, an Iron Man and two Captain Americas.
Wellington Sevens costume
Aaron Coxon, Krishan Roy, Bashneel Narayan, Sandeep Kumar, and Raajal Nand arrive at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens costume
Travis Leippi and Frank Keating arrive at Westpac Stadium in two of the more common costume varieties.
Wellington Sevens costume
Sean Moss and Jason Tinker barely squeeze into Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens costume
Abbie and Tom Featherston reenact the famous V-J Day photo as they arrive at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens costume
A group of Sherrifs arrive, determined to clean up the place.
Wellington Sevens costume
A group of Care Bears arrive at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens costume
Sevens fans arrive at Westpac Stadium in Zebra-based costumes.
Wellington Sevens costume
A group of iPod Nanos arrive at Westpac Stadium, complete with earbuds.
Wellington Sevens costume
A blue mass of Sullys from the film Monsters Inc arrive at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens costume
Thomas Brown of Inglewood arrives at Westpac Stadium as a Shuttlecock. Wrong sport!
Wellington Sevens costume
Tim Burton fans Darren Ainsley and Fraser Smith arrive at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens costume
No, this isn't an intricate group costume, it's the police presence on the Westpac Stadium concourse.
Wellington Sevens costume
Iron Man Alexis Banas and Captain America Paul Anderson, of both Auckland and The Avengers.
Wellington Sevens costume
Once again, some big babies arrive at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens costume
The Harlem Globetrotters arrive at Westpac Stadium, ready to play the wrong type of ball.
Wellington Sevens costume
Critics call Sevens fans "mindless" all the time, but we doubt this is what they had in mind.
Wellington Sevens costume
Whacky Waving Inflatable Arm-flailing Tubemen, along with some runners.
Wellington Sevens costume
Di Clarke and Al Cameron bring some comic-book fun to Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens costume
Geoff and Nathaniel Moug arrive as twin Mr. Potato Heads.
Wellington Sevens costume
A group of Oommpa Loommpa's arrive.
Wellington Sevens costume
Loren, Paula and Holly Collins arrive as a group of Ariels from The Little Mermaid.
Wellington Sevens costume
The "Bathtub Girls" arrive at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens costume
Snow Globes from all over the world arrive at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens costume
Kelly Miller, Laura Nolan, Cat Scannell, Bayley Paukau, Teresa O'Neil and Helena Reynolds of Wales arrive as Trolls.
Wellington Sevens costume
Iron Men, or two Iron Mans, arrive at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens costume
A school of clown fish arrive at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens costume
Exit Signs Stanley Clark and Morgan Tiibin.
Wellington Sevens costume
Mayans arrive, postponing the apocalypse till Sunday.
Wellington Sevens costume
A group of Nadzeya Ostapchuks arrive.
Wellington Sevens costume
The 'Hottie Scotties' get a little cheeky.
Wellington Sevens costume
Brooke Johnson, Jaala Goodwin, Lara Bird, Katrina Carter, and Erin Murphy arrive on the concourse, Disney style.
Wellington Sevens costume
Levin Scrabble pieces arrive at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens costume
Emma Hickey, Caitlin De Charmoy, Shannon Mayhew, Marion Kennedy and Victoria Wallace arrive as piñatas, we assume.
Wellington Sevens costume
Quick! Get Mark Shand and Katie Martin on TradeMe.
Wellington Sevens costume
A Sevens fan inside Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens costume
A group of Luigis are invaded by an Elmo.
Wellington Sevens costume
Traffic lights ask us to stop inside Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens costume
Clowning around inside Westpac Stadium.
Sevens Swat Team
SWAT team members from left, Glen Whitton, Rob McQuilkin and Anthobny Statham had to leave their imitation firearms at the gate.
Sevens Nerds
Revenge of the nerds.
Crowd at the Wellington Sevens
Crowd at the Wellington Sevens, Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
Lizi Oldham and Kylie Crisp arrive at Westpac Stadium as 50 Shades of Grey.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
Dominion Post General Manager Gerard Watt strutting his stuff.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
Mark O'Connor and Kent Stead arrive at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
Terry and May Moore plug in to the Sevens.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
Carl Johnson, Alex Macek, Rory Milne, and Joel Baker arrive at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
Rubix Cubes Jordan Gove and Ashley Clarke.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
Maria Misehka and Manuel Porcel arrive at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
Kathy Tipler and Chris Parkin bring some elegant refinement into the Sevens.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
Anna Riddler, Kelly Morrison, and Moana McRae arrive at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
Simon Wood and son Reuben arrive.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
¡Hola! A group of wrestlers arrive.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
Kevin Stevens is more than just a man.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
The Sandwich Crew arrive at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the stadium.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
Priscilla Iain Hay and his sister Jennifer Hay arrive.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
Steve Morgan arrives as Winston Peters.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
The Pavlova Girls, from left, Jess Hunt, Penny Gambitsis, and Natacha Sanguinett.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
The Little White Lies inside the stadium.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
Four rarities party inside the stadium.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
Sasha Wycherley gives Maggie MacLean a mean right hook, sparring ahead of the Sevens.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
Speed cameras (we assume) party within Westpac Stadium.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
We feel you, sister, we feel you.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
Edward Scissorhands wants YOU!
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
The Ooompa Loompas went a little crazy once they were freed.
Wellington Sevens 2013: Day two
A fan attempts to match his seat colour at the Wellington Sevens.
Snow Globes
Gemma Easton(paris) leads the Snow Globes onto the turf after winning the Supreme Award of the DomPost Costume Competition.

Though Tietjens' men will head to Las Vegas still 21 points clear of Kenya at the top of the series ladder, he believes the weekend's action should change people's perception of the world circuit.

"It doesn't happen that way any more and it's right around the world now," he said when asked if the days of easy passage through pool play were over. "You look at some of the teams that have battled over the weekend and you look at Fiji, the country that probably has more players in the world in sevens rugby than anyone. To go into the bowl for the first time ever, that was a shock to everyone.

"We are fortunate we haven't been in that situation yet. Touch wood it doesn't happen, but you can be pretty close. You look at our last game last night [Friday night] against the USA, it could have easily been another close loss like we had tonight [Saturday]."

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There is little doubt the inclusion of sevens in the 2016 Olympics has taken the game to another level and that the chasing field is now gathering pace on the perennial powerhouses.

New Zealand notably could not dominate the breakdown in Wellington as they have in the past, even against minnows like the US and Spain.

Full-time, contracted sevens specialists are now stronger, faster, and younger than in previous years and forwards such as D J Forbes and Lote Raikabula can no longer bully their opposites at the tackle where the crucial possession stakes are decided.

It was noticeable that New Zealand looked sharpest when youngsters Gillies Kaka, David Raikuna, Belgium Tuatagloa and Rocky Khan had the ball in their hands.

A study of this year's results confirms Tietjens' words, with the regular blowouts of old few and far between through the opening four rounds. In Wellington Fiji lost to Australia, Scotland and Canada, while Kenya beat South Africa and New Zealand before losing to England in a memorable final.

The close results were not an aberration. In Australia there were only two matches where one side scored 40 points or more, in South Africa only one and in Wellington none.

In Dubai only one match included a score over 30, New Zealand's 31-14 win over Russia.

Portugal have reached the Cup quarterfinals twice, the US once, while France were second on the series log heading into Wellington.

And things get no easier for New Zealand as they head to Las Vegas today minus Kurt Baker (hamstring) and Forbes (knee).

Tietjens has called in Mark Jackman (Canterbury) and Milford Keresoma (Auckland), both contracted sevens players.

New Zealand's failure to reach the final in Wellington has pitched them into a tricky pool with Argentina, France and Wales.

New Zealand lead the standings on 77 points, ahead of Kenya (56), Samoa (54) and Fiji, France and South Africa (51).

The Dominion Post