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Rugby League World Cup: Samoa make history to reach final

England's dreams were crushed on home soil as Samoa reached their first-ever Rugby League World Cup final in a golden point extra-time thriller at the Emirates Stadium.

Shaun Wane's side were the overwhelming favourites for Saturday's semi-final, but they failed to handle the occasion and eventually lost 27-26 to Matt Parish's outfit.

Both Tim Lafai and Stephen Crichton scored two tries apiece during the regular 80 minutes, while Ligi Sao also crossed over for Toa Samoa, before Crichton was the golden point hero as he slotted over a cool drop goal.

England showed plenty of heart to come back time and time again, but two tries from Herbie Farnworth and further efforts from Elliott Whitehead and John Bateman could only force a draw after 80 minutes.

So, while England's squad will now dissect what went wrong, Samoa prepare for their first-ever World Cup final.

WhatAustralia v Samoa, Rugby League World cup final
WhereOld Trafford, Manchester
When16:00, Saturday 19th November
How to watchBBC
OddsAustralia 1/12, Draw 33/1, Samoa 13/2

Lessons to learn for Wane and England

England boss Wane said he was "wounded" at the full-time whistle, as his first World Cup campaign ended in tears.

The hosts were expected to cruise home in the capital, and a crowd of 40,489 were hoping to celebrate come full-time. Samoa had other ideas, though, and they opened the scoring through Lafai in what was eventually a sign of things to come.

England battered Samoa 60-6 during their Pool A meeting last month, but there was no sign of any fluidity from Wane's troops, and they could not get into any rhythm in front of their home fans.

Even when Samoa captain Junior Paulo was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on George Williams, England did not assert their authority, and this is the second time in three World Cups that they have failed to progress from the final four.

Wane admitted the better team won on Saturday afternoon and captain Sam Tomkins was quick to agree at the full-time whistle in what could be his last World Cup.

He told BBC One: "The amount of pressure we put ourselves under, in attack, there were sloppy errors. We didn't defend how we had defended in previous weeks.

"In the first-half, they struck us with two tries I didn't think they deserved. But they're a good side; give them an opportunity, and they will score."

Can Samoa build on shock win?

Samoa did move in to third favourites for the tournament before a tackle was made, but their humbling group stage defeat against England suggested that was premature.

Even after losing three first-team stars in their opening fixture, Parish's side have adapted and improved each and every week; sadly England's best performance was when it mattered the least.

Samoa's physical approach will give Australia problems, and Toa Samoa proved on Saturday that they can handle the pressure.

Half-backs Jarome Luai and Anthony Milford guided their team around the park with a real purpose against the hosts, and they will have the added bonus of being the huge underdogs in the final.

Had England reached the final at Old Trafford next week, they would have been outsiders, but the odds would have been relatively close. With Samoa now playing in their first-ever World Cup final, they are 1/1 to cover the +18 handicap.

For the sport of rugby league to grow a Samoa win would send shockwaves around the world in the 13-man code, but it would arguably also be one of the biggest shocks in international sport.

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Paulo so proud of Samoa

Paulo will need to avoid any disciplinary punishment for his poor tackle to play in the final, but the Samoa skipper was focused on his team and country at full-time.

He told the BBC: "There is a lot of people who are praying for us all around the world. This one is for them. I believe we have been playing through their prayers and blessings over the last couple of weeks. We owe it to the people of Samoa.

"We have to enjoy the win tonight, and then we have another week just to prep. There's only one week to go. It's all about the journey, and the journey continues."

After an eight-year wait for a World Cup, Saturday's semi-final provided the drama that everyone wanted.

The 13-man code is in the headlines for a thrilling battle, but sadly for England, it was Samoa that came out on top.

Aussies expected to triumph at Old Trafford

A 12th title for Australia should be on the cards, with Mal Meninga's side 1/1 to cover the -18.5 handicap in Manchester, but Samoa have nothing to lose as they prepare to play in the biggest game of their lives.

While Australia should come out on top, they may need to be patient and pick their way through the Samoa defence in the second half, something England failed to do at the Emirates Stadium.

And Samoa will take heart from the fact that the Kangaroos were pushed all the way before edging out New Zealand 16-14 in their semi-final on Friday evening.

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