Tries from Tiziano Pasquali and Braam Steyn proved in vain as Italy were unable to bounce back to winning ways against Japan this morning.
Conor O’Shea’s side went out in search of their first victory since the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations as they took on the Brave Blossoms at the Oita Bank Dome in the first stanza of a two-Test summer series.
However, Italy are still looking for their first victory since they finished sixth in Rugby’s Greatest Championship earlier this year after being beaten 34-17 in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Prop Tizano Pasquali trundled over the line to get the Azzurri up and running with 15 minutes on the clock, Tommaso Allan adding the extras.
However, it did not take long for the Brave Blossoms to bare their teeth and strike back, No. 8 Amanki Mafi finishing off a flowing team move and Yu Tamura converting to make it 7-7.
The hosts kept their foot on the gas from there and the incisive Kenki Fukuoka went over in the 28th minute, Tamara adding the extras before slotting away a penalty to leave the Azzurri trailing by 10.
There was still time for O’Shea’s charges to rally before the break though and with four minutes to go to half-time, Mattia Bellini kept the ball alive and fed Braam Steyn, who broke a tackle to score his first Test try, Allan converting.
With 52 minutes on the clock, an Allan penalty levelled matters at 17-17 but parity did not last long as Japan roared back.
A Tamura penalty edged the home side back in front and then, just past the hour mark, the Japan fly-half teed up winger Lomano Lemeki to run in his team’s third try of the game.
And Japan bagged their fourth scores of the game courtesy of Kotaro Matsushima, who bustled his way over after collecting a grubber kick on the left flanks – Tamura converted both tries to round off his side’s victory.
The Azzurri renew hostilities with Japan at Noevir Stadium in Kobe in seven days’ time.