In a gripping Pacific Nations Cup encounter at the Sapporo Dome, Samoa claimed a narrow 24-22 victory over hosts Japan.

Japan scored first through Amato Fakatava, who powered through the defensive line to score a try. Seungsin Lee added the extra points with a successful conversion, giving Japan an early 7-0 advantage. A further penalty for Lee stretched the lead to 10-0.

Samoa, however, quickly regrouped and their efforts soon paid off when Alamanda Motuga breached Japan’s defense and crossed the try line for a 5-pointer.

Former Wallaby standoff Christian Leali’ifano added the conversion.

The match took a dramatic turn when Japan’s Michael Leitch was shown a red card, leaving Japan with a numerical disadvantage.

The game continued to be a tightly contested battle however, with Lee’s boot keeping Japan in front.

The momentum swung towards Samoa’s favour when Jonathan Taumateine bulldozed his way through Japan’s defense to score another try just after halftime, once again aided by Leali’ifano’s successful conversion which put Samoa into the lead for the first time.

Despite being a man down, Japan fought valiantly, adding more pressure on Samoa.

Seungsin Lee’s successful penalty goals kept Japan in contention, but Samoa managed to hold their ground, with Tumua Manu eventually scoring for the visiting side in the 61st minute.

The resulting conversion was the last score of the game.