Japan 18-20 Maori All Blacks
Maori All Blacks escape with last-minute try
ESPN Staff
November 8, 2014
Report Match details
Date/Time: Nov 8, 2014, 14:00 local, 05:00 GMT
Venue: Chichibunomiya, Tokyo
Japan 18 - 20 New Zealand Maori
Half-time: 5 - 15
Tries: Yamada, Penalty
Cons: Goromaru
Pens: Goromaru 2
Tries: Milner-Skudder, Pryor, Taylor
Cons: West
Pens: West 2

The Maori All Blacks have maintained their winning run to complete a 2-0 series sweep against Japan, but only after Dan Pryor scored a last-minute try to secure the verdict after the Brave Blossoms had held the visitors scoreless through the second half.

The Maori won by 40 points in Kobe seven days previously, when they had produced a clinical performance to score 11 tries in winning 61-21 at Noevir Stadium in Kobe and extending their undefeated run against international opposition to 17 matches since 2003. But Japan corrected the mistakes and ill-discipline that had blighted their performance in Kobe, and they dominated possession and field position after controlling the set-piece and suffocating the Maori attacks; they produced patient phase play and strong attacks around the fringes, but lacked a clinical edge and, perhaps, the physicality necessary to claim the scalp their play had deserved.

Japan, who had claimed 10 successive victories before losing to the Maori in Kobe, made a fast start through their dominant forwards and thought they had scored a try through Keita Inagaki after turning down penalties only for the TMO to deny the score for obstruction.

The Maor had scored at will in Kobe and they played as if they expected to overwhelm a similarly porous defence from the home side in Tokyo, going wide without making ground through the forwards. They scored two tries against the run of play to claim reward for their approach, from hooker Codie Taylor and fullback Nehe Milner-Skudder, while Ihaia West kicked a penalty goal and a conversion, but Japan defended stoutly and dominated possession to limit the visitors' threat. Japan got back in the game with Akihito Yamada breaking down the left wing to score a try shortly before half-time and referee Angus Gardner awarding a penalty try after the Maori had pulled down a powerful home scrum. Ayumu Goromar then kicked two penalty goals to put Japan ahead with just 10 minutes to play, but the Maori simply refused to be denied.

The visitors won a lineout, which they took quickly, and captain Charlie Ngatai burst through the defensive line and offloaded to Pryor for the Northland flanker to score the decisive try.

"They had us under the pump and it was a tough game," Ngatai said. "They shut down our attack pretty well, they brought physicality right throughout the game, and we were just lucky to hold them off ... I thought we were never going to get there but, in the end, we were lucky with that try."

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