(Reuters) - The United States posted a confidence-boosting 23-18 win over Japan in the Pacific Nations Cup rugby tournament in Sacramento on Friday.
Less than three months before the same two teams clash at the World Cup, where they are in the same group, the U.S. survived late pressure to record their first win of the tournament.
Japan were threatening to score a late try until New Zealand-born Mick Broadhurst received a yellow card for his adopted country.
The U.S. were beaten in their opening match by Samoa, who retained their unbeaten record on Friday when they drew 30-30 with Fiji, who also remain unbeaten after two matches.
Samoa overcame a 17-point deficit in the second half, and Patrick Faapale struck a late-gasp penalty to level the scores.
In the other Friday match, Tonga posted their first victory when they overcame a slow start to beat Canada 28-18 in a match played at Burnaby in suburban Vancouver.
Canada led 15-3 in the first half but were swamped soon after to slump to their second consecutive defeat.
The tournament format divides the teams into two pools. Japan, Samoa and Tonga are in pool one, with Fiji, United States and Canada in pool two.
Each team plays the three teams in the other pool, before the two teams with the best record advance to the final.
The last pool matches will be played in Toronto on Wednesday, with the final on August 3 in suburban Vancouver.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; editing by Amlan Chakraborty