Italy were forced to come from behind at half-time to beat Japan 31-24 in a World Cup warm up Test in Cesena on Saturday.
Italy were forced to come from behind at half-time to beat Japan 31-24 in a thrilling World Cup warm up Test at the Stadio Manuzzi in Cesena on Saturday.
The Azzurri trailed 17-14 at half time before two second half tries courtesy of their experienced front row saved the day.
Italy scored tries through Matteo Pratichetti, Edoardo Gori, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Andrea Lo Cicero while young fly-half Riccardo Bocchino kicked three conversions.
Substitute Luciano Orquera kicked the rest of Italy's points.
Japan's tries came from backs Takeysa Usuzuki and Koji Taira as well as a penalty try while fly-half James Arlidge didn't miss a kick all night.
Italy coach Nick Mallett's choice to pick an experienced pack and youthful backs seemed to have paid dividends early in the game as the hosts carved the Brave Blossoms apart at will.
The first try on four minutes was all too easy as Italy probed left then went right with Bocchino, making his first start, playing a dummy pass and then slipping the ball inside to Pratichetti to go under the posts.
Bocchino kicked the extras and then on 12 minutes scrum-half Edoardo Gori picked and went from the back of a ruck, ducked under two tackles and dived over line.
Again Bocchino converted but Japan settled and started to work they way back into the game.
They scored a well-worked try on 23 minutes as Arlidge's grubber kick on the left wing was kicked on by Usuzuki who then touched down.
Arlidge converted and following an Italian mistake, Japan scored again.
Gori kicked straight into touch from just outside the Italy 22, Japan won good line-out ball and spread it wide right before Taira found a gap to burrow over.
After another successful kick Japan edged their noses in front as Bocchino hit the post with a penalty from 25 yards before Arlidge landed one from wide left for a 17-14 lead at the break.
Having let slip a commanding lead, Italy turned to their pack at the start of the second half and a driving maul resulted in a try for Ghiraldini, with Bocchino converting.
Japan simply couldn't cope with Italy's maul and from a line-out five yards out, the Azzurri drove diagonally towards the posts before Lo Cicero drove through a pile of collapsing bodies to score.
However, moments later Lo Cicero was yellow-carded with Japan five yards out and the visitors went for their own driving maul, resulting in a penalty try as Italy were punished for coming in from the side to break the momentum.
But just as Lo Cicero came back on, Japan prop Hisateru Hirashima was himself sin-binned and Luciano Orquera kicked a penalty, rounding off the night's scoring.
Tries: Pratichetti, Gori, Ghiraldini, Lo Cicero
Cons: Bocchino 3, Orquera
Tries: Usuzuki, Taira, penalty try
Cons: Arlidge 3
Yellow card: Lo Cicero (Italy – 62nd min) ; Horie (Japan -73rd min)
Italy: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Giulio Toniolatti, 13 Alberto Sgarbi, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Tommaso Benvenuti, 10 Riccardo Bocchino, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Andrea Lo Cicero.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D'Apice, 17 Martin Castrogiovanni, 18 Cornelius Van Zyl, 19 Paul Derbyshire, 20 Pablo Canavosio, 21 Luciano Orquera, 22 Gonzalo Canale.
Japan: 15 Shaun Webb, 14 Kosuke Endo, 13 Koji Taira, 12 Ryan Nicholas, 11 Takeisa Usuzuki, 10 James Arlidge, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka , 8 Ryukoliniasi Holani, 7 Michael Leitch, 6 Takashi Kikutani(c, 5 Toshizumi Kitagawa, 4 Justin Ives, 3 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 2 Shota Horie , 1 Hisateru Hirashima.
Replacements: 16 Hiroki Yuhara, 17 Nozomu Fujita, 18 Luke Thompson , 19 Tadasuke Nishihara, 20 Atsushi Hiwasa, 21 Alisi Tupuailai , 22 Murray Williams.
Venue: Stadio Dino Manuzzi, Cesena, Italy
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: JÃ©rÃ´me Garces (France), Pascal Gauzere (France)
TMO: Tony Redmond (Ireland)