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Result: Japan 34 v 17 Italy (09-06-18)

Japan produced a polished all-round performance to see of Italy 34-17 at Oita Bank Dome in Oita in their first Test of the year on Saturday.

Tries from Amanaki Mafi, Kenki Fukuoka, Loamno Lemeki and Kotaro Matsushima proved too much for Italy, who scored through Tizano Pasquali and Braam Steyn.

Italy remain winless in 2018 and one feels some serious introspection is in order after a listless performance in humid conditions in Oita.

Lock Pasquali made a dream start to his debut, scoring the first try of the match, carrying the ball over the line after a series of powerful carries from the Azzurri forwards.

However, Japan would respond immediately through who else but talismanic number eight Mafi with a superb individual effort to level matters after 18 minutes.

Brave Blossoms speedster Fukuoka and Italy number eight Steyn got themselves on the scoresheet before half-time as the sides headed into the interval locked at 14-14 apiece.

But in the second stanza, Jamie Joseph’s side would show their superiority, pulling away from the Azzurri with two further tries through Lemeki and Matsushima while Yu Tamura maintained a perfect kicking record throughout.

The scorers:

For Japan:
Tries: Mafi, Fukuoka, Lemeki, Matsushima
Cons: Tamura 4
Pens: Tamura 2

For Italy:
Tries: Pasquali, Steyn
Cons: Allan 2
Pen: Allan

Japan: 15 Kotaru Matsushima, 14 Lomano Lemeki, 13 Will Tupou, 12 Timothy Lafaele, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Michael Leitch (c), 6 Kazuki Himeno, 5 Samuela Anise, 4 Wimpie Van Der Walt, 3 Ji-Won Koo, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Keita Inagaki
Replacements: 16 Yusuke Niwai, 17 Shintaro Ishihara, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Uwe Helu, 20 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 21 Yutaka Nagare, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Ryoto Nakamura

Italy: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Abraham Steyn, 7 Giovanni Licata, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Dean Budd, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini (c), 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Giosuè Zilocchi, 19 George Biagi, 20 Marco Fuser, 21 Jake Polledri, 22 Tito Tebaldi, 23 Jayden Hayward

Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Television match official: Rowan Kitt (England)



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