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.
'HORRENDOUS': NZ star Brandon Smith savaged over 'unacceptable' act
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.
What a wonderful moment for Rugby League. Samoa into the RLWC Final. A victory built on courage and resilience. They had to overcome so much, yet prevailed against the odds. England tried hard right to the end. But the big story is the Samoa victory. Just brilliant.
— Phil Gould (@PhilGould15) November 12, 2022
An absolutely insane weekend of sport, capped by what has got to be one of the most remarkable six-week turnarounds in sport. Samoa thoroughly deserving of a RLWC final berth. 🇼🇸 #RLWC2021
— Sam Hewat (@samhewat) November 12, 2022
The entire population of Samoa is around 200,000. England’s population is over 50,000,000. This win feels so large in magnitude because it IS. Truly a story of heart. Our Islands may be small in comparison but the pride and resilience our people have is unmatched. 🇼🇸
— La'i (@Lai_luuu) November 12, 2022
It might get much coverage here but Samoa beating England in the rugby league World Cup semi today is one of the sporting shocks of the year. They met in the opening game of the tournament and England won 60-6. Incredible https://t.co/s0WKU7N88p
— Dodge (@seidodge) November 12, 2022
That’s a heartbreaking way to go out of a World Cup, a golden point in extra time. Well done Samoa and commiserations England, that was an unbelievable game of Rugby League. #RLWC2021 pic.twitter.com/4esOqiSmzb
— Steven Crosby (@_stevencrosby) November 12, 2022
Incredible for Samoa, but England proving you simply don’t deserve to get to a final with all the mistakes they made #BBCRL
— Kris Jefferson (@krisyj96) November 12, 2022
Gutted for England, but something else for Samoa. The emotion from Junior Paulo and Jarome Luai said it all.
— Tanya Arnold (@tanyaarnold) November 12, 2022
What a feat from Samoa..And they qualified for the final in the best fashion possible...With a golden point.. Unbelievable..#ENGSAM
— Lütfi Ibragimowiç Berdiwadabekow (@LotfiWada) November 12, 2022
Samoa win in extra time 27-26
Australia vs Samoa rugby league final now . Samoa create history .
1st time in rugby league history a pacific island country in World Cup final #RWC2021 pic.twitter.com/22BHK1kkyx
— @Georgebakhos1 (@GeorgeBakhos1) November 12, 2022
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.
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."
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.