NZ break Blitzbokke hearts
Branco du Preez (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - A last-gasp try has seen New Zealand snatch victory over the Blitzbokke in the final of the Port Elizabeth leg of the Sevens World Series.
New Zealand won 31-26, after leading 17-14 at half-time.
South Africa started the game well when speedster Steven Hunt broke through but Cecil Afrika
crucially knocked the ball on inside New Zealand territory.
The Kiwis counter-attacked and struck when DJ Forbes went over. Tomasi Cama kicked a tough conversion to put his side 7-0 up.
However, the Blitzbokke were quick to hit back when Bernado Botha went over a minute later - with Branco du Preez converting an equally tough conversion to level proceedings.
But Boom Prinsloo was then sin-binned for a professional foul at a ruck and the New Zealanders were quick to utilise their one-man advantage when Cama burst over for his 99th IRB Sevens try. He missed the conversion to keep the score at 12-7.
South Africa struck back when Botha scored his second try to level matters just before half-time. Du Preez converted another tough conversion to put the home team in front for the first time. (14-12)
Then came a potentially deciding moment in the game when, with the hooter sounding, Prinsloo looked as though he was about to score but knocked the ball on with the tryline beckoning.
New Zealand were quick to pounce and launched a counter-attack and Frank Halai sprinted clear to put them 17-14 up at the break.
South Africa camped in the Kiwi half early in the second period and, with New Zealand making uncharacteristic handling errors, were rewarded when Hunt dived over in the corner. (19-17)
Afrika extended South Africa's lead two minutes later when he scored under the posts. Du Preez converted for a 26-17 lead.
But the Kiwis were soon to hit back when Halai went over for his second try under the sticks. Cama converted to narrow the gap to two points with less than three minutes left. (26-24)
The South African defence held out for the last few minutes and the Blitzbokke looked set for a memorable victory before one late counter attack from New Zealand saw them break South African hearts.
Toby Arnold was first to pounce on an up-field kick and, with the hooter sounding, he ran clear under the posts. He gave the ball back for team-mate Cama to score his 100th IRB Sevens try, which Cama converted to give the All Blacks a thrilling 31-26 victory.Scorers:
South Africa - Tries: Bernardo Botha (2), Steven Hunt, Cecil Afrika
. Conversions: Branco du Preez (3)
New Zealand - Tries: DJ Forbes, Tomasi Cama (2), Frank Halai (2). Conversions: Cama (3). IRB World Sevens Series results from the third leg of the nine-tournament competition in Port Elizabeth on Saturday:
Samoa 21 Wales 12
South Africa 26 France 12
Fiji 14 England 21
NZ 21 Australia 5
Samoa 7 South Africa 12
England 14 New Zealand 19
Third and fourth place play-off
Samoa 17 England 14Final
South Africa 26 New Zealand 31PlateSemi-finals
Wales 24 France 20
Fiji 26 Australia 7Final
Wales 48 Fiji 0BowlQuarter-finals
US 26 Zimbabwe 0
Canada 21 Morocco 0
Portugal 12 Argentina 28
Scotland 26 Kenya 7Semi-finals
USA 12 Canada 22
Argentina 14 Scotland 21Final
Canada 19 Scotland 22ShieldSemi-finals
Zimbabwe 21 Morocco 14
Portugal 12 Kenya 17Final
Zimbabwe 19 Kenya 12