Japan XV were hammered 38-6 by All Blacks XV in their international non-test match on Saturday, failing to score a try in the first of their five-game home series ahead of the World Cup in France starting in two months.

Head coach Jamie Joseph has listed 39 candidates to make the 33-man World Cup squad. But his experimental-looking side failed to provide a spark at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground in their first match of the year against New Zealand's second-string squad.

"It's still two months away from the World Cup, and this is the first time the team played together since November last year. It was always going to be a little bit sticky," Joseph said.

The All Blacks XV's Brad Weber (R) looks to pass the ball against the Japan XV during an international non-test match at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground in Tokyo on July 8, 2023. (Kyodo)

Japan, who will face Chile on Sept. 10 in Pool D in France before taking on England, Samoa and Argentina, took an early lead through Rikiya Matsuda's penalty but found themselves chasing for the rest of the match.

The visitors replied with a period of pressure, with Stephen Perofeta going over following a scrum inside the 22. The home side's defensive frailty was apparent from early on with the flyhalf, who missed the conversion, making one of two clear breaks for the New Zealanders before kicking a penalty for an 8-3 lead.

Matsuda and Perofeta then traded penalties to make it 11-6 to the visitors as the half ended with few chances created by either side.

Perofeta's 45th-minute penalty was followed by the introduction of Japan big guns Shota Horie, Gu Ji Won and Kazuki Himeno. But the hosts continued to make mistakes, and center Jack Goodhue added salt to the wound by crossing shortly after.

Etene Nanai-Seturo, Alex Nankivell and Folau Fakatava also dotted down as Japan's defensive mistakes mounted in a worrying display.

Japan XV's Michael Leitch (L) in action against the All Blacks XV during an international non-test match at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground in Tokyo on July 8, 2023. (Kyodo)

"It wasn't a result we were hoping for. I'm frustrated," said Michael Leitch, captaining the home side in place of injured Atsushi Sakate.

"We couldn't keep attacking. The kicking game was the plan, given the heat, but it didn't really click. We tackled reasonably well in the first half, but we need to up our line speed."

Japan will face the All Blacks XV next Saturday in Kumamoto before taking on Samoa in a World Cup dress rehearsal, as well as Tonga and Fiji on successive Saturdays through Aug. 5. Japan also have an away test against Italy on Aug. 26.

The Japan Rugby Football Union announced Friday that Japan will host New Zealand in a test match in October 2024. Japan have lost all of their last seven meetings, the last a 38-31 defeat last October.

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