Last man standing as NZ finish fourth in Dubai

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Lynn McConnell     06 Dec 2015     Getty Images

In their final day, New Zealand only ever had one substitute available in their three games. They showed great character to claim a last-minute 24-21 win over Samoa and while up 5-0 at half-time in the semi-final against Fiji, their situation caught up with them and they lost 5-19.

Fiji went on to win the tournament by beating England 28-17 in the final. South Africa, who included two Springboks and several Super Rugby players in their side, lost to the United States in their quarter-final 19-21 and went on to beat Australia 19-14 in the plate final.

In New Zealand's play-off for third and fourth against the United States, who scored their first win in Sevens history against New Zealand on day one, New Zealand at one stage were playing with five men after two players, Sherwin Stowers and Joe Webber left the field injured and with Augustine Pulu in the sin-bin. They lost 12-31.

The injury list of players out for the Cape Town leg reads:

Captain Scott Curry - serious shoulder injury.

Tim Mikkelson - head injury.

Sherwin Stowers - broken arm.

Gillies Kaka and Regan Ware - ankle injuries.

Also in doubt is Joe Webber who suffered a shoulder injury that will be assessed on Sunday night in Dubai.

Uncertain is Augustine Pulu who suffered a hyper-extended elbow, which he played through, but following a citing for an aerial challenge he is out for two games.

Tietjens said: "I have never, ever struck injuries like it. Today was quite unreal and in the final game for third we were playing at stages down to five players. The referee stopped the game at one stage to wait for a sub to come on but I said we haven't got any, that's how bad it got.

"We were playing them with five or six men, it's incredible.

"We only had one sub for our quarter-final against Samoa, and throughout the whole day. We fought our way back right at the end to win that one.

"I think losing players like Tim Mikkelson and Scott Curry, my captain, both high-profile Sevens players with a massive amount of experience, was huge for us. That was a pretty gutsy effort," Tietjens said.

Cover in New Zealand was not extensive as only 16 players are contracted, two of them were in Dubai in a non-playing capacity, leaving only two other options from the squad. It was decided to take 14 players to make it more competitive at training and to give the younger ones more experience.

Tietjens said he would be working through his options overnight to decide who would join the side in South Africa.

"I was really proud of our performance against Fiji in the semis with only one on the bench we were leading 5-0 at halftime," he said.

"But it was going to catch up on us, the wear and tear and fatigue. And if you haven't got possession against a team like that and eventually they wore us down but I'm pretty proud of the way they gutsed it out," he said.

Getting through next week's Cape Town tournament with as few injuries as possible, while remaining competitive, was important but from the Sydney and Wellington tournaments in the New Year, he will be bringing in Super Rugby players who have indicated they want to be contenders for the Olympics.

"There will be a sprinkling of that talent among the teams moving forward. But we still have the Cape Town tournament to get through and it is clear it will be a very young, inexperienced team going into that tournament, he said.