Italy held off a Japan fightback in Kobe to tie their two-Test series with a Tommaso Allan-inspired 25-22 win, their first victory in nine matches.

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The Brave Blossoms had pulled clear of the visitors with an excellent second-half showing to clinch last week’s opener, but their efforts fell short on Saturday despite a dramatic finish.

Italy were cruising at the interval in this one after tries from Tommaso Benvenuti and Leonardo Ghiraldini, with their advantage extended further when Jake Polledri crossed early in the second period.

But the Azzurri again showed their fragility as Will Tupou and Amanaki Mafi scored in quick succession to narrow the deficit to two points with just over 25 minutes remaining.

Allan stepped up, though, and a pair of late penalties ensured that Kotaro Matsushima’s last-ditch try counted for little as Japan ran out of time.

After a miserable run – winless since November – the result will be a source of some relief for Italy, even if it was secured in a far from convincing manner.

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