Japan produced a dominant second-half showing to beat Italy 34-17 in the first match of their two-Test series in Oita.
Italy went ahead in the 15th minute when Tiziano Pasquali crossed for the Azzurri but it was Japan who were in control for most of the opening period thereafter.
Japan captain Michael Leitch and Kenki Fukuoka combined to set up Amanaki Mafi, before Fukuoka sped away from the Italy defence and Yu Tamura added a penalty as the Brave Blossoms built a 10-point lead, only for it to be reduced to three when Braam Steyn powered over for Italy’s second try and Tommaso Allan again converted.
Allan then levelled matters with the boot after the restart but Italy’s momentum was checked as Japan resumed command.
Tamara nudged Japan back ahead with a penalty before the hosts scored two tries in the space of five minutes. Lomano Lemeki touched down after Shota Horie had knocked Tamara’s kick out wide into his path, with Kotaro Matsushima then putting the game beyond doubt.
The second Test takes place in Kobe next Saturday.
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