New Zealand have failed to claim their third-consecutive Sevens World Series tournament victory after they were upset 26-19 by Samoa in the final of the Las Vegas leg today.
Alafoti Faosiliva’s try after the hooter gave Samoa victory. The scores had been locked at 19-all after New Zealand fought back from 19-5 down with only three minutes remaining.
Tries to Tomasi Cama and Ardie Savea in the dying stages gave New Zealand hope but ultimately Samoa had more attacking flair.
New Zealand were without wrecking-ball wing Frank Halai and the experienced Solomon King for the final with both players out with injury.
Halai, who is the top try-scorer on the Sevens World Series, was sorely missed, with his bullocking runs on the flanks a feature of New Zealand’s dominance on tour this season.
Samoa opened the scoring in the first spell with a try to Faosiliva after the Pacific Island side were given a controversial penalty at the ruck.
Despite the tournament being held in Las Vegas the Samoans had a huge following with numerous red and blue flags popping up in the crowd.
The Kiwis hit back through the pacy Charles Piutau, but two more Samoa tries had the underdogs in front at the split.
New Zealand battled in the second spell but failed to hold the ball for long enough periods to assert any dominance on the game against a bruising Samoan side.
Their late fireworks made the game interesting but Samoa just had more strike power when it mattered.
New Zealand’s road to the final was paved via a semifinal win against South Africa 20-7 and a grinding 12-7 quarter-final victory over England.
The Kiwis made their way through pool play with victories over Samoa, Australia and Japan.
After Samoa finished second in Pool A they powered to the showpiece game with a 19-14 quarter-final win over Kenya and a come-from-behind 14-12 semifinal victory over Fiji.
Fiji finished third with a 21-15 win over South Africa in the bronze final.
Samoa 26 (Alafoti Faosiliva 2, Paul Perez, Faatoina Autagavaia tries; Reupena Levasa 3 cons) New Zealand 19 (Ardie Savea, Tomasi Cama, Charles Piutau tries; Cama 2 cons) HT: 12-5