Mighty New Zealand suffered a shock start to their bid for the World Rugby Sevens Series at the Cape Town Stadium when they slipped to a 14-10 defeat at the hands of outsiders Spain on Friday.
Australia also had a setback on the opening day when they lost to Great Britain but it was the defeat of New Zealand, the most successful team in the history of the series, that was the big surprise in the men's event.
New Zealand, who reached the semi-finals of last week's tournament in Dubai, produced an error-ridden display against a tigerish Spanish team.
The Spanish were good value for a 7-0 lead at half-time, with Manu Moreno scoring a try after the hooter following a period of sustained pressure.
New Zealand hit back with an unconverted try by Regan Ware immediately after the break but Spain made virtually certain of victory when Juan Ramos scored in the last minute.
New Zealand's Moses Leo scored with seconds remaining but there was no time to push for a New Zealand win.
PAY ATTENTION: Сheck out news that is picked exactly for YOU ➡️ find “Recommended for you” block on the home page and enjoy!
New Zealand will have to defeat Argentina and Kenya in their remaining pool matches on Saturday in order to have a chance of continuing their dominance in South Africa, where they have won 11 of the 21 World Series tournaments held in the country.
Australia, joint leaders after two rounds of the current 2023 series, went down 21-19 to Great Britain.
Australia, who won the opening leg of the 2023 series in Hong Kong, fought back from a 7-5 half-time deficit to lead Great Britain 19-14 but were thwarted by a long range try under the posts by Femi Sofolarin in the last minute.
They play the United States and Uganda in pool matches on Saturday.
South Africa, winners in Dubai and joint series leaders with Australia, opened their campaign with a 17-7 win over Canada.
The host nation are seeking their first home tournament win since 2015, the first year in which the event was held in Cape Town.
Other men's winners on the first day were Fiji, Samoa, Ireland, Argentina and the United States.
In contrast to their men's teams, Australia and New Zealand gained two wins each in the women's competition.
Australia, who won the opening women's tournament in Dubai, scored 90 points without reply. They demolished South Africa 52-0 and defeated Spain 38-0.
New Zealand, runners-up in Dubai, beat Brazil 31-7 and Great Britain 19-7.
The United States, Fiji and Ireland also won twice.
New feature: Сheck out news that is picked for YOU ➡️ find “Recommended for you” block on the home page and enjoy!