Japan stun the Azzurri
By Mark Stevens
Michele Campagnaro’s return to international duty was not a happy one as his Italy side suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Japan in Oita.
The Exeter Chiefs star could did little to thwart Jamie Joseph’s side, who produced a polished all-round performance to see of Italy 34-17 at Oita Bank Dome 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 No.8 Mafi with a superb individual effort to level matters after 18 minutes.
Brave Blossoms speedster Fukuoka and Italy No.8 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 period, 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.