The New Zealand men's sevens side finished in fourth place at the Cape Town tournament, after they were blasted off the park by a sharp United States outfit at the semifinal stage.
The Kiwis completed a disappointing final day of the latest stop of the new World Series season, when they were beaten 10-5 by hosts South Africa in the bronze medal playoff.
The All Blacks Sevens started strongly against Zimbabwe on day one, before Samoa edged the Kiwi side in the last play of the game in their second pool match. That set up a crucial clash against South Africa, where victory was needed to advance to the Cup playoffs.
A thrilling closing minute saw Sione Molia score with only seconds left on the clock to draw the scores level, before Vilimoni Koroi dotted down in the corner in added time to steal the 26-21 victory.
Amanaki Nicole then starred with a hat-trick in a 26-17 quarter-final win over Australia, before the All Blacks Sevens were undone 31-12 by a strong US team in the semifinals.
The US dominated the encounter, jumping out a 24-0 lead and holding off an attempted second half comeback.
A tense bronze final against South Africa then saw the hosts claim third spot, with a 10-5 win.
Ravaged by injuries over the past two weeks, coach Clark Laidlaw said while the fourth place finish is disappointing, there was also a lot to take out of the weekend.
"We are proud of what this team has done. We have 11 or 12 players unavailable at home but this group has done well. To come from behind against South Africa in pool play in front of a 50,000-strong crowd was a huge occasion, and we played really well against Australia, but US got on top of us," said Laidlaw.
Fiji beat the US 29-15 in the final to win their first title at the Cape Town Sevens since 2005.
The All Blacks Sevens sit second on the World Series standings with 37 points, one point behind US at the top.
The next World Series event sees teams descend on Hamilton for the New Zealand Sevens in January.