Tietjens: Sevens balance of power has changed

A dejected New Zealand sevens team, led by captain DJ Forbes, trudge off Westpac Stadium after losing to Kenya in the semifinal.
A dejected New Zealand sevens team, led by captain DJ Forbes, trudge off Westpac Stadium after losing to Kenya in the semifinal.
Kenya celebrate after defeating New Zealand in the Cup semifinal.
Kenya celebrate after defeating New Zealand in the Cup semifinal.
New Zealand's Ben Lam in action.
New Zealand's Ben Lam in action.
New Zealand's Ben Lam is tackled by Australia's Pama Fou.
New Zealand's Ben Lam is tackled by Australia's Pama Fou.
New Zealand's Lote Raikabula tackles Australia's Martin Chiappeson.
New Zealand's Lote Raikabula tackles Australia's Martin Chiappeson.
New Zealand's Ben Lam in action fends off an Australian attack.
New Zealand's Ben Lam in action fends off an Australian attack.
New Zealand's Ben Lam in action in their game with Australia.
New Zealand's Ben Lam in action in their game with Australia.
Belgium Tuatagaloa of the All Blacks Sevens makes a break during the Pool A match between New Zealand and Spain.
Belgium Tuatagaloa of the All Blacks Sevens makes a break during the Pool A match between New Zealand and Spain.
Frankie Horne of South Africa runs the ball.
Frankie Horne of South Africa runs the ball.
ama Fou of Australia runs into score during the Pool D match between Portugal and Australia.
ama Fou of Australia runs into score during the Pool D match between Portugal and Australia.
Levi Asifa'amatala of Samoa charges forward during the Pool C match between Samoa and South Africa.
Levi Asifa'amatala of Samoa charges forward during the Pool C match between Samoa and South Africa.
Duarte Moreira and Pedro Bettencourt of Portugal secure the ball during the Pool D match between Portugal and Australia.
Duarte Moreira and Pedro Bettencourt of Portugal secure the ball during the Pool D match between Portugal and Australia.
Adam Thomas of Wales scores a try in the tackle of Nathan Hirayama of Canada.
Adam Thomas of Wales scores a try in the tackle of Nathan Hirayama of Canada.

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.

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

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]."

ON THE RISE: Kenya's Horace Otieno gets a pass away against New Zealand
ON THE RISE: Kenya's Horace Otieno gets a pass away against New Zealand

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