The New Zealand men’s sevens team have pulled off a miraculous escape to prevent them from missing the quarterfinals for the first time in World Series history.
Trailing by seven points with just 30 seconds remaining in their final pool match against hosts South Africa in Cape Town on Sunday morning (NZ time), it looked all but assured the world champions were not going to make the last eight.
But a try to captain Sione Molia with just 10 seconds to play helped level the scores and, when the home side were unable to secure the restart, Vilimoni Koroi dove over in the corner from the final play for New Zealand to steal a 26-21 win.
The result booked the Kiwi team a quarterfinal against trans-Tasman rival Australia to be played just before midnight on Sunday.
Looking for back-to-back tournament wins to start the World Series season after their truimph in Dubai, New Zealand’s campaign got off to a decent start with a 35-nil victory over Zimbabwe.
However things came undone in their second match, with the Sir Gordon Tietjens-coached Samoan side snatching a 21-17 win by scoring a try with time up on the clock.
A second loss and unwanted history then beckoned against South Africa, before the late heroics kept New Zealand in the mix in the Cup competition.