Rugby League World Cup fans in shock after 'unbelievable' drama

Samoa stunned England in golden point to become the first tier-two nation into a Rugby League World Cup final. Pic: Getty
Samoa stunned England in golden point to become the first tier-two nation into a Rugby League World Cup final. Pic: Getty

Samoa has left Rugby League World Cup fans in disbelief after clinching an incredible slice of history in a thrilling golden point semi-final victory over England.

Penrith centre Stephen Crichton slotted the match-winning field goal as Samoa edged a thrilling contest 27-26 to become the first tier-two nation to advance to a World Cup final.

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Crichton showed nerves of steel to deliver the clutch play in the 84th minute after a chaotic semi-final in front of 40, 489 fans at Premier League giant Arsenal's Emirates Stadium.

Samoa will play Australia at Old Trafford next Saturday (Sunday AEDT) after completing one of the most remarkable turnarounds at a tournament in recent memory.

The drama-filled win in north London came less than a month after Samoa had kicked off their Rugby League World Cup campaign with a 60-6 group stage defeat at the hands of the English side.

England will be left to rue a number of mistakes but that is to take nothing away from the Samoans, who fought bravely and stood up to the occasion when it mattered.

"We've got each other's back - plenty of people had plenty to say about going home on planes and all that," said Samoa coach Matt Parish, who was largely vindicated after his side's group stage mauling by England.

"It's inspirational, to put Samoa - a tiny little dot in the middle of the Pacific - into the final, it's incredible."

The result is a landmark moment for rugby league and a Samoan nation with a population of just over 200,000 people, with fans around the world celebrating their extraordinary achievement.

The remarkable win for Samoa did come at a cost, however, with hooker Nu Brown concussed and captain Junior Paulo potentially facing suspension for a spear tackle on England prop Tom Burgess.

Paulo was sin binned in the first half and his hopes of playing in his nation's first-ever final will rest in the hands of the tournament's match review committee.

"Sometimes accidents are going to happen, that's footy. It's played at a fast pace. It was unintentional. How important this game is - I can't imagine myself missing out on the biggest game in Samoa's history," Paulo said.

England left to rue missed opportunity

While Samoa were rejoicing, England were left to lick their wounds. Shaun Wane's side had arguably never had a better chance to win a tournament or at the very least get to a final.

The draw was slanted in their favour to guarantee that they avoided New Zealand and Australia until the last game and Wane was almost moved to tears after the game.

"It was not good enough. All credit to our players on what they did in this tournament but not doing those small details cost us dearly," Wane said.

England were stuck in the blocks when Samoa scored after just five minutes, Tim Lafai running through a meek tackle from Kallum Watkins.

Elliott Whitehead hit back for England but Samoa found themselves up 10-6 at half-time when Ligi Sao scooted from dummy half to breeze through a hole left by Watkins.

Seen here, Samoa's Ligi Sao celebrates scoring a try against England in the Rugby League World Cup semi-final.
Samoa's Ligi Sao celebrates scoring a try against England in the Rugby League World Cup semi-final. Pic: Getty (Zac Goodwin - PA Images via Getty Images)

The second half was chaos. Lafai fumbled a ball on his own line and John Bateman dived on it to score.

Crichton went in for Samoa after a no-look offload from Paulo as he fell in the tackle and then Lafai made amends to push them out to a 20-12 lead and Watkins was subbed off.

England centre Herbie Farnworth barged through six tackles to get his side back in the game with Tommy Makinson converting and then adding a penalty to draw England level at 20-all.

More drama was to come as England went searching for a winner.

Crichton intercepted a Victor Radley pass in the 72nd minute before Farnworth dashed over in the 77th minute to tie up the game.

Anthony Milford failed with Samoa's first attempt at a field goal, before Crichton kicked the winner to make history and set up a meeting with Australia.

"Belief was everything within this team," Paulo said. "We're going to give ourselves a chance."

with AAP

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