Japan win Pacific Nations Cup with 20-34 win over USA

Michael Leitch scored two tries for Japan
Michael Leitch scored two tries for Japan
©Steve Haag

USA 20 - 34 Japan, ANZ Stadium

Japan will head into the World Cup brimming with confidence after they went on to win the Pacific Nations Cup following their 20-34 win over USA at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.

This is Japan's third win from as many games as they accumulated 15 points while USA finished the tournament with nine points.

Skipper Michael Leitch gave Japan a head start with a third minute try following which Yu Tamura kicked the conversion and a penalty to take them to 10 point lead.

They soon stretched their lead to 17 points following quick work from Kotaro Matsushima as he sent Kenki Fukuoka over the line and Tamura kicked the extras.

USA finally responded back in the 16th minute when AJ MacGinty created a space for Maddison Hughes to crossover and Will Hooley kicked a penalty and a conversion to reduce the margin to seven points.

As the half-time was approaching Tamura and Hooley traded penalties as the teams went into the break with a 13-20 scoreline.

Japan made a bright start to the second half with Ryohei Yamanaka touching down in the 42nd minute that was improved by Tamura to make the scoreline 13-27.

Just as the third quarter was about to end, Leitch gave Japan more than a respite with a try while USA managed a consolation try in the end to reduce their losing margin to 14 points.