#RWC2015: Scotland hold off Samoa to reach last eight

Samoa was punished by the boot of Greig Laidlaw who scored a decisive try late in the second-half.

Scotland's lock Richie Gray (C) vies in a maul during a Pool B match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between Scotland and Samoa at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, northeast England, on October 10, 2015. Picture: AFP.

NEWCASTLE, ENGLAND - Scotland came from behind to beat Samoa 36-33 on Saturday and go through to the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, sorely testing the nerves of their legions of fans at St James' Park and ending Japan's hopes of progressing.

Samoa, desperate to end their disappointing tournament on a high, outscored their opponents by four tries to three in a thrilling end-to-end contest, but were undone as they conceded a series of careless penalties in the second half.

They were punished by the boot of Greig Laidlaw, who scored a decisive try late in the second-half and kicked 21 points to send the Scots into a last eight meeting.

"It was pretty surreal. That's why we play rugby, for the pressure," said Scottish flanker and man-of-the-match John Hardie, describing the frenetic final minutes.

Japan had been hoping for a Samoa victory that, combined with a win over the United States in their final pool match on Sunday, would have sent the Brave Blossoms into the knockout stages for the first time.

That looked on the cards when, after Tusi Pisi and Laidlaw had exchanged early penalties, Samoa pulled ahead with a break from centre Rey Lee-Lo setting up flyhalf Pisi to touch down one-handed in the corner.

Scotland winger Tommy Seymour replied immediately with a try for Scotland, leaping to intercept a loose pass and touching down in the left corner. Laidlaw converted to level at 10-10.

From the restart, hooker Manu Leiataua went over for a second try, and Samoa stretched the gap as their backs combined in a fluent passing sequence culminating in a try for Lee-Lo.

Scotland were fortunate that Pisi missed both conversions, and pulled back some ground with a penalty for Laidlaw.

They looked in trouble when flanker Ryan Wilson was sinbinned for stamping and Pisi scored a straightforward penalty.

Though reduced to 14 men, Scotland mounted a titanic driving maul to carry Hardie over for a try, and a Pisi penalty gave the Pacific Islanders a 26-23 lead at the interval.

In the second half, Samoa gave away a series of penalties and were lucky to escape when Scotland twice gambled and failed by spurning the chance to go for three points and kicking for the corner instead.

But when a third opportunity came up, Laidlaw kicked between the posts to level at 26-26 after 50 minutes, and Scotland went ahead for the first time when he slotted an almost identical penalty shortly after.

With the Scots now on top, Laidlaw missed two kickable penalties and Scotland had a try disallowed when the ball was judged to have been held up.

Almost immediately, Laidlaw darted around the left side of the scrum to score under the posts, converting to put Scotland 10 points clear.

In the closing minutes replacement hooker Motu Matu'u went over for a converted try to keep the Scottish-dominated crowd of 51,982 on the edge of their seats, but the blue-shirted Scots held on till the final whistle.

The result means Scotland finish runners-up to South Africa in Pool B.

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