LAS VEGAS, USA February 13 – Alafoti Faosiliva scored his second try in the last moments on Sunday to give Samoa a 26-19 upset of season leaders New Zealand in the final of the US stage of the IRB Rugby Sevens World Series.
The shocker thwarted a two-try New Zealand comeback that had pulled the favorites level only to see them denied a third consecutive series crown.
New Zealand remained atop the Series after the fifth of nine rounds on 92 points to 87 for Fiji with South Africa third on 76, two ahead of England, and the Samoans jumping to fifth in the chase on 69.
The global series continues next month at Hong Kong.
Faosiliva scored his first try five minutes into the final to put Samoa ahead but Charles Piutau equalized for New Zealand 3:12 later.
Paul Perez’s try put the Samoans ahead 10:17 into the first half and Reupena Levasa’s conversion kick boosted the lead to 12-5 at half-time.
Faatoina Autagavaia scored a try 70 seconds into the second half to stretch the Samoan lead to 19-5 before New Zealand rallied.
Tomasi Cama scored a try eight minutes into the second half and substitute Ardie Savea added another 82 seconds later and two conversion kicks by Cama pulled New Zealand level at 19-19, setting up the dramatic finish.
New Zealand, nine-time World Series champions, have not won the US leg since the 2008 edition in San Diego.
The South Africans, defending USA Sevens champions, were dethroned 20-7 by New Zealand in the first semi-final.
First-half tries from Bryce Heem, Mark Jackman and Cama pushed New Zealand to a 15-0 half-time lead and D.J. Forbes added another before Branco du Perez gave the South Africans their only points in the final minutes.
Samoa’s 14-12 semi-final upset of Fiji ensured New Zealand would finish the weekend alone atop the IRB series standings.
Fiji took the lead on Waisea Nayacalevu’s try after only 91 seconds and Metuisela Talebula kicked the conversion, then Cakau added another try but Talebula missed the conversion, leaving Fiji ahead 12-0 at half-time.
Paul Perez and Autagavaia scored tries for Samoa and second-half substitute Uale Mai made conversion kicks on both to give the Samoans the victory and a berth in the final.
Fiji defeated South Africa 21-15 in the third-place match, avenging a loss in last year’s US final to maximize points from the US weekend.
Kenya downed Argentina 21-7 for the Plate while Canada edged Australia 19-17 for the Bowl and France downed Scotland 22-7 to claim the Shield.