England have closed out their pool stages with four wins from four outings as they sealed a late 18 – 17 victory over an impressive Samoan team in Lille.
Trailing with five minutes to play, England looked devoid of ideas as the Samoan defence turned them away time after time.
Eventually, the English pressure would tell as veteran scrumhalf Danny Care scooted over from close range to set up a straightforward conversion for captain Owen Farrell.
Farrell would knock over the routine conversion, and following a few minutes of flurried Samoan attack, England closed out a much-needed albeit uninspiring victory.
Encapsulating the English struggles was a Farrell penalty that, whilst successful, would be ruled out as he used the full allotted time on the shot clock.
Whilst focusing on the English negativities would be easy, Samoa must be applauded for their ability to disrupt the English attack. Physically dominating the gain line, Samoa were full value for their lead and will be frustrated in letting what would have been a famous victory slip.
As was the case with their South Pacific neighbours Tonga, the Samoans continued to show improvements as the competition went on. Unfortunately, their World Cup came to an end this evening, and it will be interesting to see where they go to from here.
On the other side, England head into the quarterfinals on shaky ground, where they will likely face a Fijian team who beat them at Twickenham in their final World Cup warm-up fixture.