Greig Laidlaw was the Scotland hero as Vern Cotter’s side triumphed 36-33 in a Rugby World Cup classic with Samoa at St James’ Park to guarantee their place in the quarter-finals.
The scrum-half contributed 26 points, including this clever 73rd-minute try, as the Scots overcame a mammoth Samoan effort to prevail in what was possibly the game of the tournament so far.
The highest-scoring match of the competition began with three tries in the space of as many minutes as Tusi Pisi crossed for Samoa before an error gifted Tommy Seymour a reply within 60 seconds.
A Ma’atulimanu Leiataua score on 13 minutes put the Pacific Islanders a try clear again, and the Scots may have been fearing the worst after Rey Lee-Lo touched down to put them into a 20-13 deficit.
John Hardie scored Scotland’s second try before the break but they still trailed 26-23 after a breathless first half in which Samoa finally showed their true colours after two defeats from three.
Then, up stepped captain Laidlaw, who kicked two penalties and converted his own try in the second period to put Scotland into a 36-26 lead with seven minutes of the contest remaining in Newcastle.
Motu Matu’u’s converted try reduced Samoa’s arrears to three points, but there was to be no repeat of the late heartbreak that Scotland’s football team suffered in Euro 2016 qualification in midweek.
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After failing to reach the last eight for the first time at the 2011 World Cup, the Scots are back in the knockout stages and will play the winner of today’s clash between Australia and Wales.
South Africa progress as Pool B winners despite their defeat to Japan, who will become the first team in tournament history to win three group games and not progress with victory over USA tomorrow.
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