Tietjens still hopeful of series triumph
The fat lady hasn't sung yet, insisted coach Gordon Tietjens after New Zealand's 21-12 loss to Fiji in the semi-finals. He still believes New Zealand can win the IRB Sevens crown, although there are only three legs left in the series.
'Losing in the semi-finals here makes it harder for us. Ideally we would have wanted to enter the final. But we are playing quite well as a team and there are still three tournaments to go. It is not over yet,' said Tietjens.
New Zealand are bidding to regain the IRB title which they held in the first six seasons after the series began in 1999, before Fiji dethroned them last year. The Kiwis are joint-second with Samoa and trail leaders Fiji (84) by six points after the Hong Kong leg.
New Zealand were reduced to six men midway through the second half against Fiji after first-half tryscorer Zar Lawrence was sin-binned for a high tackle. His absence was a turning point in the game, according to Tietjens.
'When you are down to six men, you can't compete with Fiji. They identify space very well and use it very well,' said Tietjens.
'I guess that sin-bin was deserved. We had been warned before for a couple of high tackles.'
While Kiwi captain DJ Forbes did score during the two minutes Lawrence spent on the touchlines, the increased effort of holding the Fijians at bay took a toll.
And Waisale Serevi made them pay for it, conjuring up a magical try that sealed victory for Fiji.
'It is disappointing to lose, but I'm proud of my boys. They gave 200 per cent,' said Tietjens.