New Zealand knocked out at Las Vegas Sevens quarterfinals by South Africa
New Zealand has had a day to forget at the Las Vegas Sevens, knocked out of the Cup at the quarterfinal stage by South Africa.
Their 14-7 quarterfinal loss came after a shock 22-0 defeat to Kenya in their final pool match, relegating the joint series leaders to second in their pool.
That loss meant New Zealand faced a tougher path in the knockout stages, facing pool winners South Africa, and it cost them.
Seabelo Senatla scored a first half double to give his team a 14-0 lead at the break, and although young Taranaki prop Lewis Ormond pulled a try back after halftime, New Zealand couldn't force an equalising try.
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In the other quarterfinals, Kenya's run also came to an end at the hands of hosts USA, 26-14, while Fiji hammered Japan 43-7. Australia eased past Argentina in the fourth quarterfinal.
New Zealand will now face Argentina in the plate semifinals on Monday morning (NZ time).
Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens termed the loss to Kenya as New Zealand's "worst game" all season, saying his side missed a lot of tackles and were indecisive in attack. "When you are falling off the tackles a lot of other parts of your game collapse also," he said.
The performance against "a very good" South Africa side was an improvement, he said.
He thought easy matches on the first day "came back to haunt us" against Kenya.
"I think the learning from that is that we treat every game as a final."
The team will head to the Canada Sevens in Vancouver without Sonny Bill Williams, who has returned home for treatment to a troublesome knee.
In their final pool match, Kenya scored three tries and underlined their ruthless streak when Biko Adema took - and converted - a rare penalty goal after playmaker Gillies Kaka was yellow-carded during the second half for a dangerous tackle on Dennis Ombachi.
Kaka was brought on after the break when New Zealand trailed 12-0 but was unable to effect a momentum shift.
Oscar Ayodi opened the scoring in the third minute while Oscar Ouma also exposed New Zealand's defence before Adema missed a penalty attempt after the Kiwis discipline faltered.
Kenyan super sub William Ambaka Ndayama crossed moments after coming off the bench to make the game safe for a side currently ranked eighth after four stops of the 10-leg circuit.
Kenya 22 (Oscar Ayodi, Oscar Ouma, William Ambaka Ndayara tries; Biko Adema pen 2 con) New Zealand 0. Halftime: 12-0.