Sixth place will have to do.

While the All Blacks Sevens did not achieve their goal of a fourth straight Wellington World Series title yesterday - they dropped two of their six games over the two days of the tournament - all is not lost.

In fine fettle, and tactically smart, in their opening 33-7 salvo over Samoa, in a much-hyped clash, they will be kicking themselves that they were so profligate in the 26-10 Cup quarter-final defeat to Rio Olympics and World Series champions Fiji. That was after topping Pool C on Saturday.

They ran out of gas in the fifth place final, conceding a last second try to Argentina after a wild pass.


The 18-year-old playmaker Vilimoni Koroi showed he has a deep bag of tricks, especially in his virtuoso display against England (a 24-0 shutout), and he gave several last pass assists, hinting at some big days ahead. Koroi, just out of school, had his family in the crowd. He said he was nervous, but played like he was at the park with his mates.

This developing New Zealand team does show promise, but they lacked some of the X-factor, such as the Ioane brothers and Ardie Savea that lit up the 2016 event, not to mention consistency both with and without the ball.

The old warhorse DJ Forbes wound back the clock, playing with his usual commitment and effectiveness, while Isaac Te Tamaki showed some fancy footwork in his brace against USA on day one. Veterans Scott Curry, Sherwin Stowers and Tim Mikkelson all had their moments. But New Zealand were defensively creaky against Fiji and Argentina.

In the Cup final, after a day of wind and sun, South Africa confirmed their form as the tournament's best team, sweeping Fiji 26-5. One of their scorers, Seabelo Senatla, passed Fabian Juries to become South Africa's leading all-time tryscorer with 180.

It was a physical decider, and Fiji took an early lead via Joeli Lutumailagi's eighth score of the event, but South Africa were too slick and extended their World Series lead.

Sir Gordon Tietjens' Samoan team had a steep learning curve, but will take 13th position after edging Russia 19-12.

Scotland continued their resurgence by clinching third place ahead of surprise package Canada.

Heading into next weekend's fourth leg in Sydney as hosts, Australia will seek a better showing, after placing 10th, losing the Challenge Trophy final 19-17 to Kenya.

Thankfully, though, World Rugby gave a strong directive towards the referees around the policing of high tackles, most games were not adversely affected by the rulings.

While New Zealand will live to fight another day, the future of the Wellington leg of the World Series must be under a dark cloud after paltry crowds over the two days. There looked to be well under 10,000 on either day and, indeed, the day two crowd was, if anything, smaller than day one, which should never be the case on finals day. . World Rugby will hate seeing the empty yellow seats on the TV coverage.

Other venues around the country, notably Rotorua, might just be preparing their plans for change.