Samoa pile on gloom for All Blacks with victory in Dubai Sevens
Defeat in Rugby Sevens final for New Zealand as Perez scores twice in opening four minutes
It was a bad weekend to be wearing the famous black jersey with the silver fern logo.
As England beat the All Blacks in London by their biggest ever victory margin, bringing to an end the world champions' 20-game unbeaten run, in Dubai Samoa defeated the All Blacks Sevens in the Cup final of the second leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
The 26-15 victory was pleasing revenge for Samoa, who, three years ago, had suffered the same fate at the hands of New Zealand, whose sevens team have now been given the honour of being allowed to sport the famous All Blacks tag.
That accolade has been given mainly in recognition of the growing importance of the abbreviated version, which is now an Olympic sport.
However, since taking on that mantle, Gordon Tietjens's men have still to win a tournament, having lost in the finals of the opening two legs of the series, beaten by Fiji in the Gold Coast Sevens in October and now humbled by Samoa at the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens. It is almost as if the weight of carrying that famous name is proving a huge burden.
Tietjens insisted that, despite failing to secure a final victory, he was still happy with his side: and why not if you are leading the standings with seven tournaments to go, including the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Sevens in March.
"It's disappointing not to win one but it's not the end of the world," Tietjens said. "I have to be happy with two second-places. You could probably go through the entire World Series and win it without winning one leg."
Tietjens will be disappointed, all the same. Having watched the New Zealand women win the first leg of the inaugural IRB Women's Sevens Series, crushing South Africa 41-0, he would have hoped the men would be able to make it a double-black celebration.
Man of the match Paul Perez and his Samoan team-mates had other ideas, however, with a barnstorming display in front of a capacity crowd of 40,000 fans.
Samoan captain Afa Aiono said: "We had a lot of new boys in the side, but they believed, and stepped up and did the job. And Paul had a huge game, he is one of the few experienced hands for us."
Perez scored twice in the opening four minutes, his first try coming in just 20 seconds to leave the All Blacks Sevens reeling.
"We made too many mistakes," Tietjens conceded. "They got off to a flyer, scoring inside the first 20 seconds. It's pretty hard to turn around a game like that, although we came to within four points before making another mistake."
Yet, despite the last-hurdle setback, the men in black still lead the standings with 38 points, thanks to Fiji's early exit, in the Cup quarter-finals, losing 8-5 to France.
New Zealand's consistency in reaching the business end of tournaments has been the reason behind why they have been crowned champions in 10 of the past 13 years.
The series now moves to Port Elizabeth in South Africa this weekend.
Hot on the heels of the Kiwis are Fiji, and Kenya, who have been the revelation this season under former England coach Mike Friday, with both on 32 points. Kenya finished third in Dubai, defeating France 15-12. Wales won the Plate, Argentina the Bowl and England the Shield.