Vilimoni Koroi scored the decisive try as New Zealand managed to sneak past Samoa to reach the quarter-finals on the opening day of the Cape Town leg in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series on Saturday.
The hosts South Africa, USA, Spain, Fiji, England, Australia and Scotland have also progressed to the next stage.
The opening two games of the group saw South Africa completing a 22-12 win over Samoa while winners of Dubai 7s New Zealand blanked Zimbabwe 35-0. With Zimbabwe suffering another massive 43-0 win over Blitzbok, it looked like both them and New Zealand will progress to the next round until Samoa sprung a surprise.
A double from Sione Langi Joseph Molia kept New Zealand in the game but Samoa had one of their greatest moment in the history of the game when Tila Mealoi crossed over late to seal a 17-21 victory putting the defending champions in a spot of bother. With Samoa beating Zimbabwe 33-12, New Zealand needed to beat South Africa in the final game of the round and it looked a tight one with both the sides struck at 21-21 until Koroi helped them sail through with a 17th minute touchdown ending Samoa's hopes.
“Tough old game out there,” New Zealand’s Dylan Collier said afterwards. “[It was a] big crowd, awesome atmosphere and we did well to come back. After last week we knew we had to lift our game.
“I think we knew what we wanted to do, we just had to go out there and make sure we did the basics right, and it just opened up for us at the end there.”
The runners-up of Dubai 7s USA had no problem whatsoever in extending their form as they registered 54-0, 38-17 and 31-14 wins over Japan, Spain and Argentina to claim the top place. Spain's 12-35 win over Argentina followed by 52-0 win over Japan proved decisive as they managed to end second in the group with seven points and Argentina had five.
France would be disappointed in missing out the quarter-final berth and their campaign started with a massive 50-0 defeat to Fiji followed by 26-12 defeat to England. With Fiji and England already sailing through their close encounter saw ending in 19-21 with the Pacific side going on to top the table. France, who managed to beat Kenya 19-12 finished third with five points with England at second with seven points.
It was a special day for @jdougg13 at the #CapeTown7s, becoming the all-time leading try scorer for @RugbyCanada— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) 8 December 2018
He has 126 tries to his name, here is just one from Cape Town, and it was, oh, so, gooooood. pic.twitter.com/lKw63K5lzO
Australia had the better of in the final group with 21-14 win over Wales and 29-15 victory over Canada putting them in a comfortable position and they capped off the first round with another 26-14 win over Scotland to end undefeated and also occupy the pole position in Group D. While Scotland managed to sneak past Canada in the second place, Wales had a torrid time losing all the three games including a 28-7 defeat to Canada.
Your Cup quarter-finalists at the #CapeTown7s @Blitzboks v @Scotlandteam - 12:04hrs (GMT+2)@fijirugby v @ferugby - 12:26hrs @Aussie7s v @AllBlacks7s - 12:48hrs@USARugby v @EnglandRugby - 13:10hrs https://t.co/Fj3DyGPOgR pic.twitter.com/SzibxC9gga— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) 8 December 2018