Kiwi team relying on other results before they even play and coach admits top-4 chances are probably gone.
New Zealand's chances of reaching a seventh consecutive Junior World Cup semifinal are in the balance.
In fact, coach Chris Boyd's team will know by kickoff in tomorrow night's final pool game against Scotland in Pukekohe whether they have a shot at scraping into the top four.
All eyes will be on the 3.35pm Pool B clash featuring Wales and France in Albany. Wales need to win that, but not by too much, and preferably deny the reigning Under 20 Six Nations champions a bonus point.
This result, assuming Ireland have already secured a bonus point victory against Fiji, would mean the Irish top Pool B against the odds, while New Zealand would come late on the inside rails with a big win over Scotland to grab the fourth qualifier berth.
Boyd is not holding his breath after his side capitulated against a strong-arm South African display on Friday night. The 33-24 flattered New Zealand, and the lack of a bonus point could be costly.
"Our chances of making the top four are probably finished," lamented Boyd.
"Unfortunately that's the way the draw is structured. If we don't make the top four, we could win the rest of our games and finish fifth with one loss. In South Africa in 2012 we came second with two losses.
"The format for what it is is fine. Ideally, we'd like to see 16 teams but the question is whether there'd be 16 teams who are competitive enough. [This format] does make it tough for qualifying."
It must be galling for Boyd and his coaching staff to have some prime talent in the backline and yet not receiving enough ball, the Tevita Li hat-trick on Friday notwithstanding, due to set-piece deficiencies.
"That's the nature of the beast. We rely on our skills, natural talent and ability to move the ball around, but again we've got to be able to control the possession to play that game. We couldn't do that against South Africa," said Boyd.
Hooker Hame Faiva was not shirking responsibility for his role in a couple of overthrows that were symptomatic of New Zealand's output in that key area.
"The throw, the lift and the jump have to be on target. We failed to do that with our timing and calls and a few of them I mucked up," said the second-year NZ Under 20s player.
Though New Zealand called the odd five-man short lineout, they needed to break it up further with three or four-man lineouts, though Faiva confirmed there was no three-man play in their structure. The onus to call the numbers falls to lock James Tucker, who spent 10 minutes in the bin at the end of the first half.
Though New Zealand combated the vaunted South African lineout drives fairly well, they took the attitude that it was better to concede three rather than seven points, and though they were pinged on occasion, this worked okay. Not so the scrums, where they conceded three tightheads, and one try from that turnover.
"That was probably an error with [me] getting caught up between the props' and locks' feet. We'll go back to the drawing board on that," added Faiva.
No prizes for guessing what have been the main work-ons in the last two days.