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TOKYO (AP) -Faatiga Lemalu scored two tries on Sunday as Samoa defeated defending champion Japan 27-26 to win the Pacific Nations Cup.

Hendrik Tui and Ayumi Goromaru ran in tries to help Japan take a 16-0 after 27 minutes. But Samoa came back late in the first half and cut the lead to 16-14 on tries by Kahn Fotuali'i and Lemalu.

Samoa took a 17-16 lead on a Ki Anufe penalty three minutes after the break and the visitors widened the lead to 24-16 when Lemalu ran in his second try and Lolo Lui added the conversion.

Anufe's second penalty of the day in the 65th minute gave Samoa a 27-16 lead. Japan got two tries from Takashi Kikutani and Toshiaki Hirose but Ryan Nicholas' conversion drifted wide as Samoa held on for the win and the title.

Samoa improved to 3-0 and won the PNC trophy for the second time, having previously won it in 2010. A win by Japan would have seen the title decided next weekend when Fiji hosts Tonga at Lautoka's Churchill Park.

Samoa coach Stephen Betham made five changes to the 22 that beat Fiji last weekend. In the front row, Tii Paulo started at hooker with Wayne Olo Avei moved to the bench, while Logovii Mulipola was handed the No. 3 jersey.

Iosefa Tekori took over from Daniel Crichton in the second row and Kane Thompson replaced Ben Masoe at No. 8. The backs were unchanged with the exception of scrum half, where Fotuali'i got the nod over Jeremy Sua.


Samoa 27 (Kahn Fotuali'i, Faatiga Lemalu 2, tries; Ki Anufe 2 penalties, 2 conversions, Lolo Lui, conversion) def. Japan 26 (Ayumi Goromaru, Hendrik Tui, Takashi Kikutani, Toshiaki Hirose, tries; Goromaru 2 penalties). HT: 16-14.