Samoa set up RLWC semi-final with England

After dethroning Tonga and becoming Pacific rugby league's new superpower, Samoa will aim to right the wrongs of their opening World Cup loss and avenge England in the semi-finals.

Matt Parish's side claimed a 20-18 win in Warrington to set up a rematch with England at London's Emirates Stadium next Saturday (Sunday AEDT)

The spectre of England's 60-6 win against Samoa in the tournament's opening game has followed Parish's star-studded side throughout their campaign.

Big wins over Greece and France were par for the course, but the victory over Tonga - which got Samoa to their first-ever semi-final - was proof that this star-studded side could finally fulfil their immense potential.

"The tournament was never about the first game, it was about the last game," Parish said after the win on Monday (AEDT).

"You guys (journalists) made it about the first game.

"We were never going to be at our best, it was always about building through the tournament. I've been through it numerous times.

"England were unreal and we were pretty ordinary, what more can we say about it? We've moved on."

Samoa had to work hard for their victory after an enthralling pre-game exchange of cultural performances that whipped the 12,674 fans at the Halliwell Jones Stadium into a frenzy.

Parish's side performed each step of their siva tau in a back and forth with Tonga's sipi tau which set the tone for a pulsating opening half.

Jaydn Su'A and Jarome Luai crossed for Samoa in the early stages with tries from Daniel Tupou and Siosiua Taukeiaho keeping Tonga in the game to trail 12-10 at halftime.

Tonga never looked convincing, however, and they will be left to rue a missed opportunity to pass through to the semi-finals for a second-straight tournament.

"I don't know whether the occasion got to us as the start," Tonga coach Kristian Woolf said.

"Samoa beat us to the punch a little bit.

"We were on the backfoot for a fair bit of the game but to win that game we needed to be better than what we were."

Isaiya Katoa levelled the scores with a penalty in the 50th minute, Stephen Crichton responding shortly after for Samoa to reestablish a lead.

But Samoa soon pulled away, thanks in part to a brilliant break by fullback Joseph Suaalii.

Winger Brian To'o touched down on the hour mark to open up an eight-point gap.

Sione Katoa cut the deficit for Tonga to set up a grandstand finish and make it 20-18.

Camped on Samoa's line and in search of a late winner, Tonga five-eighth Tui Lolohea attempted a grubberkick on the fourth tackle with 40 seconds remaining which was gleefully scooped up by Junior Paulo to secure victory.

Samoa, however, will be hoping Paulo isn't sanctioned for leading with the elbow in a collision with David Fifita late in the game and that Marty Taupau, who limped off in the second half, will be fit to face England.