Japan backed up their superb 17-17 draw away to Women's Six Nations 2019 runners-up Italy with a thrilling 24-20 win over Scotland at Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow on Sunday.
The Sakura 15s remain below Scotland in the World Rugby Women's Rankings but only by one place – in an historic high of 12th – as opposed to four before kick-off.
Scotland looked set to win the first test between the teams after building a 20-10 lead entering the final quarter thanks to a double from Megan Gaffney and tries from Lisa Cockburn and Rachel Malcolm.
Crucially, though, Helen Nelson was off target with all four conversion attempts and Japan stung the home side by scoring two late tries through Makoto Ebuchi and Ayasa Otsuka – to add to earlier efforts from Noriko Taniguchi and Seina Saito – with conversions from Minori Yamamoto and Ai Hirayama ultimately making the difference.
San Diego double lifts Canada
With England, ranked second behind New Zealand, getting no reward in terms of rating points for their comprehensive 60-3 win over Italy in Bedford, Canada were able to close the gap on the Red Roses following back-to-back victories against rivals USA in the Can-Am Series.
After Wednesday's hard-fought 19-0 win, Canada were able to execute their attacking plays much more effectively in the second match and ran out 52-27 winners in San Diego, Alysha Corrigan leading the way with a try in each half.
Captain Olivia DeMerchant and DaLeaka Menin also scored in the first half to give Canada a slender 19-15 lead at the break.
Gillian Boag, Taylor Black, Sophie De Goede and Tausani Levale added tries in the second half as Canada dominated the Women's Eagles. Brianna Miller kicked five conversions and Irene Patrinos added another.
The two wins were worth just under two rating points in total, taking Canada above France into third place and condemning the USA to a one-place drop with Australia the beneficiaries.
England sign off with a big win
Player-of-the-match Vicky Fleetwood opened the scoring for England in the fifth minute and they never looked back as they went on to narrowly eclipse their 55-0 Six Nations victory of the Azzurre back in March in their final international of the year.
Poppy Cleal and Heather Kerr added their names to the scoresheet, also from mauls, before Abby Dow finished off a fine move in the corner to close out the first half.
Rain poured down in the second half but England were no less ruthless and managed to add six more tries, World Rugby Women's 15s Player of the Year 2019 Emily Scarratt, Kerr with her second, Amy Cokayne, Rownita Marston and Sarah Bern getting on the scoresheet in addition to a penalty try.
Elsewhere, Fijiana's 26-7 win over Samoa in the Oceania Rugby Women's Championship not only takes them a step closer to Rugby World Cup 2021 qualification but it also sends them up to 24th in the rankings, equalling their joint highest position. The loss of three rating points has seen Samoa fall four places to 15th place with South Africa climbing one to 15th.
Switzerland's 32-0 win over previously in-form Finland in the Rugby Europe Women's Trophy moves them up two places to 43rd with Finland remaining in 53rd position.
Photo: Scottish Rugby/SNS