Japan XV took a huge step towards winning the World Rugby Pacific Challenge 2024 title after a thrilling 45-43 win victory over Fiji Warriors in the second round of the competition in Apia on Monday.

It was the second bonus-point win of the competition for Naoya Okubo’s team who beat Manuma Samoa 48-5 in round one.

They top the standings with a maximum 10 points knowing that they only need to avoid defeat against Tonga A in the final round on Sunday to add to Junior Japan’s triumph in 2020.

Fiji Warriors still have an outside chance of defending their title after picking up two bonus points in the defeat, as that leaves them three points adrift with a match against hosts Manuma Samoa to come.

Manuma Samoa delighted the home crowd with a 56-17 win against Tonga A in the second match played on Monday.


Japan XV needed a try in the final minute from replacement back Tasuku Masuyama to prevent them losing a game that they dominated in the most part.

Fiji Warriors were up against it from the off and were made to pay for Sakiusa Vosayaco’s yellow card in the second minute.

Japan XV ruthlessly used the one-man advantage to score two converted tries through full-back Yoshitaka Yazaki and hooker Kenji Sato while the Fiji Warriors openside was in the sin-bin.

Fiji Warriors responded in a helter-skelter first 10 minutes when Semi Tikotani went over, but Japan XV then ran in back-to-back tries, one of them converted, for a 26-7 lead with barely a minute of the second quarter played.

With his side up against it, Fiji Warriors captain John Muller stepped up to score two close-range tries but sandwiched in between the tighthead’s brace was a second for Japan XV full-back, Yazaki.

A penalty try at the start of the second half extended Japan XV’s 33-19 half-time lead to 40-19.

Fiji Warriors were now a full three scores behind but their bench made a big impact and tries by two of the replacements, Seremaia Komailevuka and Netava Saukuru, got the home crowd believing again.  

Both teams lost players to the sin-bin on 55 minutes with Muller and Japan XV flanker Syusui Kamei seeing yellow in the 32-degree heat.

Neither team was able to score during their absence and after 15 minutes or so of relative calm, the game burst back into life again with a try for Fiji Warriors openside, Vosayaco.

Fiji Warriors managed to score again, this time through second-row Timoci Nakalevu, to claim the lead for the first time in the match with 77 minutes gone, despite losing inside-centre Sireli Maswini to the sin-bin.

Having seen the momentum of the match turn so dramatically against them, Japan XV could easily have let their heads drop.

But they stuck at it and a mistake in the backfield by Fiji Warriors handed them possession 10 metres out and eventually the ball was flung wide to Masuyama, who scored in the corner in the last play of the game.


After an evenly-contested first half, Manuma Samoa opened their account against Tonga A with a 56-17 win.

Left winger Owen Niue opened the scoring in the fourth minute with the first of his two tries, and Afa Moleli added the extras.

But Tonga A levelled the scores in the 15th minute when centre Kevin Aranui Trinity Tuaimeiapi crossed the line and Patelesio Oneone turned the five points into seven with the conversion.

Tagilima Ripine got Manuma Samoa’s second not long after before a penalty apiece for Oneone and Moleli brought about a half-time score of 15-10 in the home side’s favour.

Moleli converted Taitaifono Senio Tavita’s try at the start of the second half and then added his second penalty as Manuma Samoa stretched their lead to 25-10.

Malaesaili Elato added a fourth try just after the hour mark and Moleli once again added the extras to that try and to Niue’s second before being replaced by Pilisi Tumama.

Three tries in the final 12 minutes – two of them converted by Tumama – to one in reply meant that the momentum stayed with Manuma Samoa.

Replacements Henry Malaitai, Christopher Afamasaga and Pitone Avito marked their arrival onto the pitch with tries while Tonga A’s second score went to Edward Whyte.