There is a fine line in sevens between a good and bad tournament.
The All Blacks Sevens know that better than most after again failing to reach the Cup semifinals, this time in the traditionally happy hunting ground for them of Hong Kong.
The tournament started badly even before kickoff on Friday night when captain Scott Curry was laid low by the flu, and the situation worsened when Tim Mikkelson injured his shoulder in the scratchy 19-7 pool win over Wales. After dispatching Japan 40-14, New Zealand pushed Fiji hard but fell 17-14 and lost Iopu Iopu-Aso to suspension for a dangerous tackle.
In yesterday's Cup quarter-final against series leaders South Africa, New Zealand led 12-7 at the break but succumbed to the second half pressure. Cecil Afrika's try, when he ghosted through a gap with barely a New Zealand hand laid on him, was especially disappointing. South Africa won 21-19, and then advanced to a seventh straight Cup final with a 29-24 extra time victory over the US.
Scott Waldrom's charges did at least produce some good sevens in the fifth place semifinal, downing England 21-7. Joe Ravouvou, who used his size and pace to good effect over the three days, roared in for a brace against England, while Sione Molia showed he is no slouch with an 80m breakout effort.
New Zealand were due to meet Argentina overnight in the fifth place.
They will likely hold on to fourth position but have made up ground only on England ahead of them. They will need to reassess their strategy for this weekend's eighth leg of the series in Singapore. Eliminating loose errors and getting more ball to Ravouvou in space might be priorities.