Canada missed a chance to clinch the Pacific Nations Cup (PNC) rugby title when they lost 13-16 to Japan on Wednesday.
Also, Fiji kept the US winless with a 35-10 victory in the opening game of the doubleheader at Mizuho Park.
Making their debut in the competition, Canada would have won the PNC unbeaten with a victory. Instead, the title could yet go to the winner of the Fiji-Tonga match in Tokyo on Sunday.
Japan retained the same 23 from their historic win over Wales last weekend, but made four changes to the starting lineup. Fullback Ayumu Goromaru scored all of Japan’s points from a converted try and three penalties.
Center Ciaran Hearn’s converted try in the second half regained Canada the small lead they had enjoyed at halftime, but Goromaru’s seven-pointer midway through the second spell put Japan back in front at 13-10.
Canada leveled on James Pritchard’s second penalty, but Goromaru’s third penalty eight minutes from the end sealed Japan’s win.
Meanwhile, Fiji banked on a better scrum and more incisive backs for their second win from three PNC matches. The US rotated their lineup to leave captain Todd Clever and experienced backs Chris Wyles and Mike Petri in the reserves.
Nikola Matawalu scored the first of Fiji’s four tries. Timoci Nagusa finished off an attack from a tighthead for 17-3, but the Eagles cut the lead to seven after a try by Andrew Suniula
Another tighthead led to Fiji’s third try, scored by Sakiusa Matadigo, then Matawalu counterattacked from a kick to run in replacement back Nemia Kenatale.