Sydney: Ardie Savea scored after the full-time siren to grab New Zealand a 17-17 draw with hosts Australia in an exciting climax to the opening day of the Sydney Sevens yesterday.
The All Blacks trailed 17-5 at half-time and 17-12 into the final seconds before Savea streaked away to score under the crossbar for a converted try to clinch the draw.
Savea’s last-ditch try denied Australia only their ninth win in 63 meetings with New Zealand on the World Series circuit.
Australia looked primed for a massive upset before a big partying home ground to dominate all but the final seconds of the thriller.
New Zealand will play the US in tomorrow’s quarter-final with Australia taking on England.
“We did it in Wellington on the first night and just believed if we could get hold of the ball we could stick some pressure on them, they are a great team and when they hold the ball they are really physical and fast so made it tough for us,” New Zealand captain Tim Mikkelson said.
“Both teams won their first two games and were automatically through, so it was a chance to test yourself against a very good Aussie team. We are through, but come tomorrow it means nothing.”
Australia try-scorer Lewis Holland said of the draw: “We knew it would be a massive challenge and it was, it came right down to the wire and I guess that is what we have to work on, closing those games out in the dying seconds. Today is a building block, it’s all about day two, we have got to regroup, recover and tighten up on a few loose areas and come out tomorrow with our heads switched on, those nerves are settled now, and really put on a show tomorrow.”
World Series leaders South Africa will tackle Argentina in their quarter-final today after topping their group.
South Africa managed to hold on for a 26-19 victory over Kenya to top Pool B. Juan de Jongh scored their only second-half try but Kenya kept them on their toes until the final whistle after Oscar Ayodi cut the deficit to seven points with a minute to play.
Kenya will play in today’s other quarter-final against Fiji, who breezed through with victories over Samoa, France and Argentina to top Pool C.
It was closer than their meeting in Wellington but Fiji came out on top again over Argentina after tries from Semi Kunatani and Savenaca Rawaca.
Argentina did keep it alive with Axel Muller’s try cutting the margin to five with time for a restart, but they went too long and Fiji made it three from three again.