While Japan remain winless in its Rugby World Cup preparations with plenty of mistakes to be fixed, head coach Jamie Joseph and his players remain focused on stepping up and delivering when things really matter at the tournament in France.

On Saturday, the mood around Kumamoto's Egao Kenko Stadium was somewhat lifted late on after an attacking spell, during which Semisi Masirewa went over twice to make the score look respectable at 41-27 against the All Blacks XV. The result followed a more one-sided 38-6 loss to the touring team by a Japan XV a week earlier in Tokyo.

The latest contest had been all but sealed with just under half an hour to play and Japan trailing 41-13 following a plethora of errors — including knock-ons from established players Shota Horie and first-time captain Kazuki Himeno.

"I think overall we played Japan rugby," said flanker Jack Cornelsen, happy with his team managing to create openings that were few and far between in the first game of the series.

"The area we can improve a little bit is the scrum and (we made) a few sloppy errors in the lineouts ... hopefully that gives us the platform to attack."

All Blacks XV coach Leon MacDonald pointed out that the hosts threw away opportunities that could have swung the result.

"We knew that second match was going to be very different," he said. "We knew that Jamie would select a stronger team, the Japanese would be keen to come and put in a really strong performance."

"I thought the Japanese attack, especially in the second half, was very difficult for us to stop. ... (The) ball carriers were able to go pretty direct with their attack. (Japan's) errors kept us in the game, otherwise it could have been a very tight game."

All Blacks XV captain Brad Weber described the Brave Blossoms' defense as "a big step up from last week," but with the likes of hat-trick hero Billy Proctor repeatedly finding gaps in the line, there still appears to be room for big improvements.

"(Our) couple of first-half tries were from turnover attack, I thought they were pretty lethal," Weber said. "We certainly thrive off mistakes and turnovers, but (Japan) certainly challenged us around the ruck. It's tough to go through there so we tried to go wide this time."

Joseph, happy with contributions from lock Amato Fakatava and up-and-coming center Tomoki Osada, said his team will maintain its identity and use the defeats to build toward the Sept. 8 to Oct. 28 World Cup.

"It's not through lack of effort, it was because we were playing a very good rugby team and as soon as you make one mistake against New Zealand, they are going to punish you," the head coach said. "We don't want to stop the way we've been playing the game, we need to keep improving, maintain that confidence about the way we want to play.

"I'm very proud of my team ... we just got to be there, each week."

Substitute scrumhalf Yutaka Nagare, whose introduction added tempo to the Japanese attack in his home region of Kyushu, vowed to get the win in a week's time in Sapporo in a World Cup rehearsal against Group C rival Samoa.

"We have to win when we put the Brave Blossoms' jerseys on and it's disappointing to lose," he said. "It will be a real test match from the next game and we'll have a good preparation to definitely win it."