Japan produced a marvellous second half performance to beat hosts Canada 34-25 in the opening round of Pacific Nations Cup 2014.
Trailing 25-9 at the break, Japan belatedly found the rhythm that had won them a record seven matches in a row to score 25 unanswered points in the second half and begin their PNC campaign in style.
The victory in Burnaby, British Columbia continued the Brave Blossoms’ recent good record against Canada and puts them top of the embryonic Pacific Nations Cup table following Samoa and Tonga’s 18-18 draw some 24 hours earlier.
Canada were rewarded for continuous early pressure with an unconverted try for centre Ciaran Hearn after just five minutes, to the delight of the capacity crowd of 6,328 at the Swangard Stadium.
Three penalties from Japan full back Ayumu Goromaru to one from his opposite number James Pritchard handed Japan a 9-8 lead with 29 minutes on the clock.
Not long after Shota Horie was yellow-carded and Canada used their man advantage to good effect to take control of the scoreboard.
A second Pritchard penalty saw the Canucks regain the lead for a second time before they closed out the half in impressive fashion.
First, John Moonlight crashed over and then Taylor Paris scored on the back of good play by Hearn, with both tries being converted by Pritchard for what seemed like a healthy half-time lead.
Undeterred, Japan came out for the second half fired up and a 42nd minute try for Yoshikazu Fujita gave them a foothold in the match.
Goromaru then kicked his fourth penalty of the night in the 56th minute to make it 25-17 before Yu Tamura broke through the Canadian midfield untouched in the 63rd, with Goromanu's conversion cutting the deficit to just one.
Hendrik Tui, with Japan’s third try, and the boot of Goromaru, who turned the five points into seven by landing the conversion as well as adding a late penalty, completed the spectacular 25-point turnaround.