Samoa advance after draw with Scots
Samoa have avoided the embarrassment of an early World Cup exit by coming from eight points down to draw 14-all with Scotland in Cairns on Saturday and advance to the quarter-finals by virtue of a superior points differential.
Players from both teams looked puzzled as to what the drawn scoreline meant after 80 minutes but with no golden point extra time the teams took a point each, with Samoa setting up a quarter-final showdown against Australia in Darwin next weekend without winning any of their three Pool B matches.
Boasting NRL talent all throughout their 17 Samoa were expected to move easily past a Scottish team that had sent three players home in disgrace mid-week but were sloppy and sluggish in the first half as they had just 37 per cent of possession and completed only 53 per cent of the sets that they did have.
They were out-enthused by the Bravehearts from the opening minutes but came out a different side in the second half to erase the eight-point half-time deficit to do enough to draw level and secure a third quarter-final appearance in Samoa's World Cup history.
Having endured a horror first 60 minutes it was fullback Young Tonumaipea who crossed to allow Samoa to draw level 13 minutes from full-time and after the two teams traded errors – Herman Ese'ese twice the culprit for Samoa – Danny Addy missed a shot at penalty goal from 40 metres out with six minutes to play.
Oscar Thomas's rushed field goal attempt for the Scots just missed to the right of the posts and another attempt by Addy – who was sensational at five-eighth for Scotland – swung away to the left with a minute to play, effectively ending their World Cup campaign.
Samoa coach Matt Parish opted to go into the game against Scotland without skipper Frank Pritchard and half Ben Roberts and he could be forced to do without Leeson Ah Mau against the Kangaroos after the rugged prop was placed on report for a high shot shortly after coming onto the field.
Despite a disastrous tournament to date including the dispatching of three players for misconduct, the Scots started brightly in Cairns, Lewis Tierney touching down inside five minutes after an Addy kick evaded the clutches of Tonumaipea.
The Scots split the Samoan defence shortly after again through Addy but rather than taking a gift two points in front of the posts chanced their hand and turned the ball over midway through the set, allowing Samoa to build their way into the game courtesy of a try to Junior Paulo after 11 minutes.
An Addy penalty goal in the 18th minute gave the Bravehearts a two-point buffer and when Frankie Mariano pinched an inexplicable Tim Lafai offload 20m out from the Samoan line to scoot across the Scots had a 14-6 lead 12 minutes from half-time.
The out-of-sorts Samoans almost stole a try they didn't deserve less than two minutes from the break after a simple bust by Nu Brown but the pass from Pita Godinet who had loomed up in support was thrown well forward with the try-line in sight.
It was evident from the opening set of the second half that the lack of energy in the Samoan team had been a hot topic in the dressing sheds at the break and nine minutes in they punished a Scottish error with a try to Matthew Wright in the right-hand corner.
The late afternoon rain that North Queensland is famous for made conditions increasingly difficult as the half wore on and the challenge facing Scotland made even tougher by Dale Ferguson being forced from the field to receive treatment after a clash of heads with teammate Luke Douglas.
Scotland had been reduced to 16 men earlier in the game when winger Shane Toal failed to pass his HIA test but they showed great desperation in defence until the very end to at least end a disappointing World Cup on a positive note.
The draw brought to an end a four-game Samoan losing streak but they will begin a new one next week unless they can deliver a far more improved performance against an Australian team that will be ready to flex their finals muscles.
Samoa 14 (Junior Paulo, Matthew Wright, Young Tonumaipea tries; Matthew Wright 1 goals) drew with Scotland 14 (Lewis Tierney, Frankie Mariano tries; Danny Addy 3 goals) at Barlow Park, Cairns. Half-time: Scotland 14-6. On report: Leeson Ah Mau (Samoa).