Italian job: Azzurri beat Japan to tie rugby series

After being humbled 34-17 by Japan in their first test, Italy strike back with a 25-22 away-win to tie the two test series

Kobe (Japan) (AFP) – Italy completed a nail-biting 25-22 away win over Japan on Saturday to tie their two-test series against the 2019 World Cup hosts.

The Italians attacked with real purpose in Kobe after being humbled 34-17 by the Brave Blossoms last weekend, but needed two clutch penalties from fly-half Tommaso Allan to repel a furious late Japan fightback.

Tommaso Benvenuti opened the scoring in the 19th minute after early Italian pressure, diving over in the corner after good work from Marcello Violi.

A superb driving maul gave Italy captain Leonardo Ghiraldini the opportunity to extend his side’s lead before a Yu Tamura penalty reduced the deficit to 12-3 going into the halftime break.

When Jake Polledri added a converted try for the visitors soon after the restart, the floodgates looked set to open with Japan wobbling.

But as tempers began to fray, Will Tupou and Amanaki Mafi crashed over the try line in quick succession to haul the Japanese to within two points.

Allan slotted two late penalties and appeared to have dashed Japan’s hopes of a comeback before Kotaro Matsushima’s last-minute try set up a nervous final few seconds.