Blitzboks fall at final hurdle in epic New Zealand encounter
New Zealand have defeated the Blitzboks by 24-21 in an epic final at the Wellington leg of the Sevens World Series.
The Blitzboks started brightly forcing New Zealand into errors with some tenacious defending and then scoring a converted try through captain Phillip Snyman after excellent work by Cheslin Kolbe and Juan de Jongh.
Rosco Speckman extended the lead with brilliant stepping in close when South Africa were awarded a 5 metre scrum after yet more excellent defence had forced New Zealand into an error.
New Zealand were finally on the scoreboard with a minute to go in the half, scoring a converted try out wide through Akira Ioane who brushed off a desperate tackle from Chris Dry with ease.
Ioane then showed his prowess in defence, saving what looked like a certain try by just managing to force Speckman into touch on the stroke of half-time.
The Blitzboks led 14-7 at the break.
Seabelo Senatla extended the Blitzbok lead early in the second half after a mistake by Sonny Bill Williams allowed Hougaard to poach the ball and find the speedster on his left.
The turning point in the match however came when Speckman received a yellow card for a professional foul.
New Zealand made the extra man count with Rieko Ioane getting over in the corner for an unconverted try but the Blitzboks still led 21-12 with two minutes to play.
Another score by Rieko Ioane bought New Zealand to within two points with under a minute to play but crucially, Speckman had returned to the field.
New Zealand were not to be denied and with time up on the clock they rallied for one final effort, scoring through Joe Webber in the left hand corner to send their supporters at the Westpac Stadium into ecstasy.