Italy survived a late Japan fightback to win 25-22 in Kobe on Saturday and draw the series 1-1.
The Azzurri dominated the first half but were made to work hard in the second as both sides scored three tries, with the boot of Italy flyhalf Tommaso Allan making the difference.
Japan suffered an early blow when they lost Samuela Anise to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle. Despite not taking full advantage of their numerical superiority, Italy were able to get on the board when Tommaso Benvenuti crossed for the opening try after good build-up play from Jayden Hayward.
Italy continued their dominance when a powerful driving maul saw captain Leonardo Ghiraldini crash over. However, the visitors would not be able to put any more points on the board in the half as Japan’s Yu Tamara kicked a penalty to make it 12-3.
The Italians came out firing after the break as flank Jake Polledri broke a number of tackles and scored under the posts to extend their lead.
Japan then hit back after a tight period through a well-worked try from Will Tupou. The hosts made it a two-point game minutes later as Amanaki Mafi came off the bench to good effect, scoring their second try.
Allan kept his nerve to kick two penalties to give his side some breathing space but Japan kept themselves in the game when Kotaru Matsushima crossed late on. But it would not be enough for the Japanese, with Italy holding on to secure the victory.
Japan – Tries: Will Tupou, Amanaki Mafi, Kotaru Matsushima. Conversions: Rikiya Matsuda (2). Penalty: Yu Tamara.
Italy – Tries: Tommaso Benvenuti, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Jake Polledri. Conversions: Tommaso Allan (2). Penalties: Allan (2).
Japan – 15 Kotaru Matsushima, 14 Lomano Lemeki, 13 Will Tupou, 12 Timothy Lafaele, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Michael Leitch (c), 6 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 5 Samuela Anise, 4 Wimpie Van Der Walt, 3 Ji-Won Koo, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Keita Inagaki.
Subs: 16 Yusuke Niwai, 17 Shintaro Ishihara, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Uwe Helu, 20 Amanaki Mafi, 21 Yutaka Nagare, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Ryoto Nakamura.
Italy – 15 Jayden Hayward , 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Matteo Minozzi, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Abraham Steyn, 7 Jake Polledri, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Dean Budd, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini (c), 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Subs: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Simione Pietro Ferrari, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Giovanni Licata, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Carlo Canna. 23 Giulio Bisengi.
Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images