Rio Olympics 2016: Three turning points in mens' sevens shock loss

Japan's players celebrate after winning the men's rugby sevens match against New Zealand at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Photo / AP
Japan's players celebrate after winning the men's rugby sevens match against New Zealand at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Photo / AP

Japan have shocked the rugby world once again, beating the All Blacks sevens team in their Rio Olympics opener 14-12. Here are the three turning points that swung the game Japan's way.

1. Sonny Bill's injury

Sonny Bill Williams leaves the field. Photo / AP
Sonny Bill Williams leaves the field. Photo / AP

The All Blacks sevens team suffered a massive blow early in the second half after Sonny Bill Williams was helped off the field with a partially ruptured achilles. At this point, scores were tied at seven with five minutes left to play.

The Japanese received a boost from Williams' absence, with back Lomano Lemeki saying "He's like a main weapon in the New Zealand team so that was our game plan, just try to stop him, especially in offloading."

Unfortunately, the injury will rule Williams out for six to nine months.

2. Japan's game winning try

Japan's Kameli Soejima scores the go-ahead try against New Zealand. Photo / AP
Japan's Kameli Soejima scores the go-ahead try against New Zealand. Photo / AP

New Zealand had edged in front with an unconverted try from Akira Ioane and time was winding down with scores sitting at 12-7.

Japan unexpectedly levelled the scores with less than two minutes left, with Kameli Soejima crashing over the line.

Japan then had the chance to take a two-point lead with just one minute remaining, all that was needed was a conversion from Katsuyuki Sakai...

3. Japan's clutch conversion

Japanese players celebrate victory. Photo / Getty Images
Japanese players celebrate victory. Photo / Getty Images

And Sakai made no mistake!

His dropkick from 38 metres on the angle sailed straight through the uprights and Japan were up.

All they had to do was hold off a late surge from New Zealand and Japanese rugby would secure their second famous victory in the past year after dispatching South Africa in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The Japanese were able to withstand a late length of the field effort and walk away with a stunning victory.

Lomano Lemeki said "We started getting more confident and New Zealand started to struggle a bit."

"We thought, if we keep on moving the ball around, the big guys will tire somewhere and eventually they did. We had a game plan against New Zealand - play at our pace and they would get frustrated."

"It is unbelievable. You never see a minnow come here and beat a team which is supposed to be a gold medal contender. I am still shocked, to be honest."

- NZ Herald

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