NZ finish third, England win in extra time over Kenya
Sportal.co.nz 02 Feb 2013 Getty Images
Instead Gordon Tietjens' side had to settle for third place after a 17-7 victory over Samoa in the third/fourth playoff.
Tietjens also has injury concerns ahead of next weekend's tournament in Las Vegas. Kurt Baker has already been ruled out with a hamstring strain and DJ Forbes could join him on the sidelines after suffering a knee injury in the semi-final loss.
It was left to England and Kenya to do battle for the top honours in a dramatic final that went to extra time.
It was only the second time the Kenyans had ever appeared in a Cup final and the crowd were desperate to see the Africans lift the silverware.
But it wasn't to be as Kenya had Andrew Amonde and Oscar Ouma sent to the sin-bin in the second half and Sam Edgerley got the all important try in extra time to seal a 24-19 win for Ben Ryan's side.
The English got off to a fast start with tries for Dan Norton and Christian Lewis-Pratt but Kenya led 19-12 at half-time thanks to some powerful running from Horace Otieno, Ouma and Willy Ambaka who all scored.
The second half was dominated by some desperate defending from both teams. Even down to six men Kenyan managed to keep the English at bay as Tom Powell lost the ball over the line.
But they couldn't stop Lewis-Pratt from scoring with the last play of the game to tie the scores and force extra-time.
Tietjens admitted after the loss to Kenya that New Zealand had been desperate for another crack at England to atone for their day one loss to the eventual champions.
And for the first half of their semi-final they looked like they were heading for the final after tries to Tomasi Cama and Tim Mikkelson had given them a comfortable 14-0 lead.
But Ouma got the Africans on the score sheet with his first try of the game midway through the second half before Collins Injera forced the game into extra time with a score right at the death.
Ouma then shrugged off Belgium Tuatagaloa to dot down for the decisive try, which was wildly celebrated by his team-mates but left the New Zealand crowd and players shell-shocked.
It was a disappointing end for New Zealand who have been below their best in Wellington, but who had produced a much-improved effort in their 24-5 win against Australia in the Cup quarter-final.
Gillies Kaka ran in a brace and Ben Lam and Sam Dickson also got across the whitewash against their trans-Tasman foes as the New Zealanders reaped the reward of putting more people into the breakdown.
The All Blacks Sevens were also helped by the sin binning of Australian Ben Adams late in the first half for a trip on Mikkelson. During his two-minute stand down Lam scorched in for his try and Dickson went over in the corner, although the pass from Lote Raikabula looked forward.
A late try for Tom Cusack was merely a consolation but one the Australians deserved.
England had to hold off a fast-finishing Samoa to even make the final, snatching a dramatic 21-19 win.
Samoan playmaker Alatasi Tupou was sent to the sinbin two minutes into the second half for a no arms tackle when the match was finely poised 14-12 in England's favour.
Watson's try while Tupou was on the sidelines extended that lead to 21-12 but a try from Lio Lolo with a minute to go set up a tense finish.
Kenya had also needed a late try by Oscar Ayodi and the all-important conversion from Otieno to even make it to their semi-final showdown with New Zealand.
Their 21-20 victory over South Africa was by far the most exciting of the quarter-finals as they clawed their way back from a 15-7 half-time deficit to snatch the victory at the death.
Fiji's tournament started with a loss to Scotland and ended with a 28-19 loss to Canada in the Bowl final.
It was a disappointing finish to what has been a disappointing tournament for the Pacific Islanders, who along with France and South Africa have lost ground on series leaders New Zealand. France were bundled out of the tournament by Fiji in the Bowl semi-final.
After scraping into the Cup competition, South Africa failed to win a game on day two and bowed out with a 28-12 loss to Australia in the Plate semi-final.
France also departed at the semi-final stages, losing 19-17 to Fiji.
Australia though finished strongly, taking out the Plate final 22-7 against Scotland, while Wales beat Tonga 26-21 to win the Shield.
Most popular News:
Wayne Smith to re-join All Blacks coaching staff for 201522.Dec.2014
All Blacks selection round table: The loose forwards21.Dec.2014
Black Ferns gain automatic qualification into 2017 World Cup20.Dec.2014
Reds confirm Ballymore pre-season against Crusaders20.Dec.2014
Barbarians confirm 125th birthday clash with Argentina19.Dec.2014
Carter to leave New Zealand Rugby at end of 201518.Dec.2014