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Missed conversion grants Japan their first ever win over Italy

By Lucy Lomax
Japan's Ayasa Otsuka (C) kicks the ball forward during the New Zealand 2021 Women's Rugby World Cup Pool B match between Japan and USA at Northland Events Centre in Whangarei on October 15, 2022. (Photo by Dave Lintott / AFP) (Photo by DAVE LINTOTT/AFP via Getty Images)

Japan withstood a fierce second-half fightback from Italy in Parma to beat the Azzurre for the first time in the 21-year history of tests between the nations.

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The Azzurre left themselves too much to do after trailing 22-7 at the break and despite bringing the score back to 25-24, a missed conversion at the death denied them victory.

Italy will quickly get the chance to set the record straight as the teams will meet again in the inaugural WXV fixture in 11 days’ time, in South Africa on Friday 13th October.

Vittoria Vecchini scored first for Italy from a maul and Beatrice Capomaggi added the conversion, but tries from Komachi Imakugi, Kotono Yasuo, Ayano Nagai and Otoka Yoshimura – the latter two coming while Italy were down to 14 players following a yellow card to Francesca Granzotto – saw Japan take command.

Granzotto made amends by scoring Italy’s second try at the start of the second half, which was converted, before Vecchini got her second of the match. This time the try went unconverted and the score was now 22-19 to Japan.

A penalty from Ayasa Otsuka extended the visitors’ lead to six points which proved crucial in the end as Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi’s try went unconverted to leave Italy one point short.

With 1.82 points gained, the win has lifted Japan above higher-ranked Italy and Ireland into tenth place, equalling their highest-ever position from earlier this year, and will have given them a real confidence boost going into WXV 2.

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Eabn 8 hours ago
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Who cares - boring is good when it comes to Media - they don’t bug you as much. While the focus is on the resurrection of the Wallabies, don’t forget the grass roots - Any opportunity you have to visit, train or promote Rugby down here in Melbourne / Regional is pretty much imperative given the current situation with the Rebels. I’m talking about us grass roots clubs and more so, clubs in the West of Melbourne who are being absolutely smashed by Rugby League and who have been contributing directly to the game down here long before the Rebels emerged and no doubt will do so well after they may be gone. All I have heard is all about the elite level, not the grass roots level so while the talk is about “ The Wallabies” and “Super Rugby Pacific” get back to the roots of Union and include us in your plans. So Phil Waugh and those leaders within RugbyAustralia, it’s on you to ensure the bottom feeders, so to speak, are included in all the talk and the funding if you want Union to regain ground and more respect within the Union and also the broader sporting fraternity. Given you have been in Melbourne a number off times over the last month, extending the courtesy of having a meet and greet with Victorian grass root clubs eluded you for some reason. Do we count or matter in RA’s and yours bigger picture?? Ean Drummond - Club Founder/President - Wyndham City Rhinos RUFC Inc. Hoppers Crossing, Melbourne.

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