Scotland restored lost pride but their dreadful World Cup campaign is over after Samoa secured the draw they needed to take the final quarter-final place in Group B.
The Bravehearts defied the odds to push a strong Samoa side all the way in a 14-14 stalemate in Cairns, only to miss out on a last-eight spot by virtue of their vastly inferior points difference.
Steve McCormack got the response he demanded after crushing defeats by Tonga and New Zealand. But without captain Danny Brough – one of three players sent home after being too drunk to board a flight – his team were unable to build on a promising first half as Samoa improved enough to book a quarter-final date with Australia.
Lewis Tierney and Frankie Mariano went over either side of Junior Paulo’s effort to give a Danny Addy-inspired Scotland a deserved eight-point half-time lead.
But Matthew Wright got Samoa back in it in the driving rain and Young Tonumaipea earned the below-par Samoans a draw.
Scotland took a fifth-minute lead when Tonumaipea made a mess of Addy’s chip into the in-goal area and Tierney touched down. Samoa were level six minutes later through Paulo but Addy edged the Bravehearts back ahead with his second goal from a 40-metre penalty.
Scotland went further ahead as Mariano got his hands on an attempted offload by Timoteo Lafai and went over untouched.
Samoa were a different team after the restart and they were right back in it when Wright held off Matty Russell’s tackle to touch down spectacularly in the corner.
Scotland had conditions on their side – evoking memories of their 18-18 draw with New Zealand in Workington exactly a year ago – and they were digging deep but Samoa crossed in the next set through Tonumaipea after Jarome Luai spotted a hole on the short side.
It remained 14-14 after Wright was wide with his conversion and Addy spurned a golden opportunity from another 40-metre penalty.
Addy then pulled a drop-goal attempt wide and Samoa saw out the final minute to end Scotland’s World Cup.
n Tonga pulled off a shock 28-22 win over New Zealand to earn a World Cup quarter-final against minnows Lebanon.
The Pacific Islanders came from 16-2 down at half-time to clinch a sensational victory with a hat-trick of tries from winger David Fusitua. New Zealand now face Fiji.