CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — New Zealand scored in the left corner more than a minute after the fulltime hooter to beat host South Africa 26-21 Saturday and scrape through to the quarterfinals at the Cape Town World Rugby Sevens.
The early series leader was in danger of missing the cup quarterfinals for the first time ever before a thrilling finish to pool play on the first day.
Needing a win, New Zealand trailed 21-14 with time almost up but Sione Molia scored his second try in the last minute and Andrew Knewstubb hurriedly kicked a conversion with just a second on the clock to level — and force the game to restart. The New Zealanders retrieved possession from the kickoff and swept forward, with Vilimoni Koroi finishing the final move out on the left wing to keep New Zealand, the defending Cape Town champion, alive at the tournament.
South Africa qualified as group winner after victories over Samoa and Zimbabwe, and New Zealand went through at the expense of Samoa. The quarterfinal places in that pool were decided on points difference, with Samoa missing out despite an earlier last-minute win over New Zealand.
The United States, Fiji and Australia topped the other groups, winning all three of their pool games. Fiji was impressive to beat France 50-0, Kenya 38-7 and England 21-19. The U.S. opened with a 54-0 rout of Japan and also beat Spain and Argentina.
Sunday's quarterfinals are: South Africa vs. Scotland, Fiji vs. Spain, Australia vs. New Zealand and the U.S. vs. England.
New Zealand won the rugby sevens season-opener in Dubai, beating the U.S. in the final. South Africa, the defending series champion, finished sixth in Dubai.
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