NAPIER, 27 Sept. - Canada and Japan played out only the third draw in the history of the Rugby World Cup, finishing 23-23 at McLean Park on Tuesday, and this was the second straight World Cup where the two nations tied.
Last time Japan scored late to ensure the deadlock. This time, Canada were the comeback kids.
Tries by Shota Horie and Kosuke Endo plus 13 points from the boot of James Arlidge seemed to be enough for John Kirwan’s Brave Blossoms to end a 17-match winless streak.
But a 79th-minute penalty from Canada's Ander Monro left the sides sharing the points in this Pool A match.
Determined running and resolute defence from both sides characterised the match, and with the second half only four minutes old Phil Mackenzie summoned all his pace and power to bring Canada back to 17-12.
Monro then notched a 64th-minute penalty but Arlidge hit back immediately to maintain a five-point gap.
Another Arlidge penalty made it 23-15 but a try by Monro left the match finely poised with five minutes left, then the same player slotted a penalty to make it 23-23.
An Arlidge drop goal attempt fell short in the dying seconds.
Canada had the best of the early exchanges but Japan hit back with two tries to lead 17-7 at half-time.
Canada’s DTH van der Merwe was denied only by a despairing tap-tackle in the fifth minute, then a move from a scrum was held up over the line.
Moments later van der Merwe shrugged off a tackler to cross under the posts, James Pritchard converting.
Japan replied almost immediately, hooker Horie burrowing his way over to score Japan's 50th Rugby World Cup try after Alisi Tupuailai's offload.
Arlidge added the extras then kicked a penalty to put Japan 10-7 up, but the try came at a price as Tupuailai was replaced soon afterwards by Bryce Robins.
Shaun Webb then almost squeezed in at the corner after a move that began in Japan's 22 but was nudged into touch.
Sustained pressure saw wing Endo race in on the stroke of half-time, again converted by Arlidge.
Tries: Van Der Merwe, P. MacKenzie, Monro
Pens: Monro 2
Tries: Horie, Endo
Convs: Arlidge 2
Pens: Arlidge 3
Possession: Canada 58% Japan 42%
Territory: Canada 41% Japan 59%
Tackles Made/Missed: Canada 99/13 Japan 122/17