Fa'atiga Lemalu scored two tries on Sunday as Samoa beat Japan 27-26 in Tokyo to win the Pacific Nations Cup for a second time.
Fa'atiga Lemalu scored two tries on Sunday as Samoa beat defending champions Japan 27-26 in Tokyo to win the Pacific Nations Cup for a second time.
Samoa finished the four-team competition with three straight wins, but it was a disastrous tournament for the reigning champions, who lost all three of their games.
Tonga and Fiji are out of contention ahead of next Saturday's dead-rubber.
Full-back Ayumu Goromaru gave Japan a 6-0 lead, scoring two penalties shortly after kick-off, in a taste of things to come in Tokyo.
Right prop Logovii Mulipola's shoulder charge on stand-off Harumichi Tatekawa in the 18th minute handed Japan a one-man advantage, with number eight Hendrik Tui immediately making the Samoans pay.
Tui was on hand following a good run by left winger Hirotoki Onozawa to go over for the first try of the game, giving the hosts an 11-0 lead.
Then left flanker Takashi Kikutani added another unconverted try in the 26th minute following a succession of quick rucks to lead 16-0.
But Samoa closed the gap within minutes of Mulipola's return, with scrum half Kahn Fotualii going over between the sticks after Samoa opted to kick for the corner. Stand-off Ki Anufe duly converted it.
Then lock Faatiga Lemalu went over for Samoa's second try with Anufe cashing in on the conversion, giving Japan a 16-14 lead at half time.
A penalty from Anufe in the 43rd minute put the surging Samoans in the lead for the first time at 17-16.
Some more poor Japanese defence allowed Samoa to penetrate deep and Lemalu powered over for his second try of the day, as Japan wilted badly.
Smelling a Samoa victory, right centre Lolo Lui took over the kicking duties for the visitors. He made no mistake with the conversion as Samoa led 24-16.
Anufe then scored his second penalty to extend the lead to 27-16 in the 65th minute.
To their credit the Japanese, needing a try to stay in the game, nearly closed the gap as a good run by right winger Toshiaki Hirose was stopped just short of the line.
Samoa lost their own line-out and Kikutani finished off with a try in the corner in the 68th minute, but it was too far out for Nicholas Ryan to convert.
Nine minutes later, Hirose made no mistake, the captain finishing after a period of sustained pressure to go over in the corner and put one point between the sides. But Ryan's attempted conversion just drifted wide.
Tries: Hendrik Tui, Takashi Kikutani 2, Toshiaki Hirose.
Pens: Ayumu Goromaru 2
Tries: Kahn Fotualii, Faatiga Lemalu 2
Cons: Ki Anufe 2, Lolo Lui
Pens: Ki Anufe 2