The Springboks Sevens won four tournaments last season but missed the top eight for the first time in 21 tournaments soundly beaten in the last fixture of the day.
New Zealand bullied South Africa at the breakdown as a 20-0 advantage was established at halftime. Akuila Rokolisoa is the only Kiwi to have played every match this season. His hat trick was a vintage display of speed, skill, and trickery. The leading points scorer in the World Series in 2022/23 should go close to winning the MVP award too.
Xavier Tito-Harris might be set for accolades in the future. The 18-year-old out of Kelston Boys’ High School only arrived in London on Thursday as an injury cover for Moses Leo. He scored two tries against South Africa, his first a showcase of supreme confidence fending off a larger opponent and sprinting clear. His second was opportunistic, staying alert to a fumble.
A quarter-final place was confirmed with a 20-5 success over hosts Great Britain. The boisterous home crowd was largely subdued in a polished effort by the All Blacks Sevens highlighted by scrambling defence and the attacking ingenuity of Rokolisoa.
The first try illustrated those two assets vividly. Following desperate cover by Dylan Collier, Rokolisoa offloaded from the ground, and around the ankles of a defender, to Collier for the first try.
Regan Ware doubled the lead with a 65-metre dash before a wicked bounce evaded everyone except for the British who were shut out in the second half. Rokolisoa and Sione Molia adding to the All Blacks Sevens tally.
New Zealand opened their account with a 35-17 win over the USA. The victory did come at a cost with Roderick Solo dislocating his shoulder shortly after scoring a try from halfway following a simple cut between Collier and Scott Curry which opened a gap.
Earlier Leroy Carter swooped upon a loose pass to strike initially and then he swerved around the Eagles first-try scorer Steve Tomasin in a superb individual effort from 60 metres.
Youthful exuberance was best displayed when Che Clark set up Tito-Harris for his first try in black.
Rokolisoa slotted four conversions in the opening match, none in the second.
New Zealand versus France starts at 9:51pm. France beat Spain (35-21) but lost to Australia (12-26) and Samoa (21-28) in Pool C.
Argentina v Ireland
Fiji v Australia
Samoa v Great Britain
New Zealand v France