Playoff hopefuls Kobe Steelers mounted a late comeback to draw 40-40 with Brave Lupus Tokyo in Japan Rugby League One on Sunday.

Center Junta Hamano dotted down after the siren to knot the scores, but Bryn Gatland missed the conversion that would have clinched victory for the visitors at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground.

Despite the absence of star No. 10 Richie Mo'unga, second-place Brave Lupus dominated early and led 33-14 at the break thanks to five first-half tries, including a pair from fullback Michael Collins.

Players of Kobe Steelers react after their team leveled the scores in their match against Brave Lupus Tokyo moments before the end of the game, resulting in a draw at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground in Tokyo on April 14, 2024. (Kyodo)

But the Steelers answered by scoring four tries to one in the second half, with their final five-pointer coming with Brave Lupus down to 14 men following the 79th-minute sin-binning of All Black flanker Shannon Frizell.

The result leaves the Dave Rennie-coached Steelers seven points adrift of the fourth-place Yokohama Eagles with three rounds remaining. The top four teams at the end of the season will advance to the championship playoffs.

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