Brave Lupus Tokyo closed the gap on the Japan Rugby League One top four Saturday after escaping with a 19-18 win away to Toyota Verblitz.

The result moved head coach Todd Blackadder's team to within three points of fourth-place Yokohama Eagles, who were beaten 15-5 on the road by Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay.

Toyota fullback Tiaan Falcon missed all three of his conversions, including the final kick of the game after replacement Shuhei Yamaguchi went over in the 84th minute at Paloma Mizuho Rugby Stadium.

The hosts had been forced to defend for long stretches but stayed in the contest thanks to a brace of tries from Springbok flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Brave Lupus Tokyo lock Jacob Pierce scores a try against Toyota Verblitz in the second half of a Japan Rugby League One match at Paloma Mizuho Rugby Stadium in Nagoya on March 18, 2023. (Kyodo)

Tries from Jack Stratton and Nicholas McCurran helped Brave Lupus take a 12-0 lead before du Toit crossed late in the first half, managing to ground the ball as he was tackled over the line.

Falcon cut the deficit to 12-8 with a penalty early in the second half before a converted Jacob Pierce try pushed Brave Lupus' lead to 19-8.

Toyota came roaring back with du Toit's second five-pointer and Yamaguchi's late effort, both scored down the left, but they could not finish the comeback, with Falcon hooking his final conversion attempt from near the touchline.

In Saturday's other first-division match, Shizuoka BlueRevs came away from Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground with a 19-15 win against BlackRams Tokyo.

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