Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw inspired his team to a narrow in over Samoa ©Getty Images

Scotland booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup as they claimed a thrilling 36-33 win over a battling Samoa side at St James’ Park in Newcastle today.

In what was a scintillating, end-to-end contest between the two sides, Tusi Pisi, Ma'atulimanu Leiataua and Rey Lee-Lo all touched down for the Pacific nation in a pulsating first-half, which provided the highest-scoring opening period in the tournament’s history as Samoa led 26-23 at the break.

But the Scottish side came roaring back in an equally-compelling second half, with captain Greig Laidlaw proving the star performer for his nation as he claimed a haul of 26 points, including a vital late try which put them ahead.

Motu Matu'u's try in the dying embers of the match made for a nail-biting finale but Scotland held on, and they will now go on to face Australia at Twickenham Stadium in the last eight on Sunday (October 18).

“If anyone thought it was going to be an easy game, after the first five minutes, we certainly got a taste of what was coming at us,” Scotland head coach Vern Trotter said.

“We found ways into the game and I thought the forwards stepped up and played well.”

The Pool B clash started at a ferocious pace and after the teams traded penalties early on, Pisi went over in the corner and then converted to edge the already-eliminated Samoan team in front.

Tommy Seymour then crossed the white line to level the scores for Scotland, before Leiataua restored the Samoan advantage shortly after.

The topsy-turvy nature of the match continued and after Laidlaw reduced the deficit, Samoa responded instantaneously thanks to Lee-Lo’s try.

Ryan Wilson was then sin-binned for a blatant stamp on opposite number Maurie Fa’asavalu, though Scotland didn’t appear affected by their one-man deficit as they moved to within one point of the Samoans.

The second half wasn’t quite as ferocious as the Scots relied on the kicking prowess of Laidlaw, who finished with one try, three conversions and five penalties, as he put Scotland in the lead for the first time in the match at 29-26.

Australia's impregnable defence helped them record their 11th straight win over Wales in another thrilling contest at Twickenham
Australia's impregnable defence helped them record their 11th straight win over Wales in another thrilling contest at Twickenham ©Getty Images

His late score then helped Scotland into a 10-point advantage but Samoa hit back, though Matu'u's try ensured a nervy finish to a game the 51,982 fans inside the stadium would have been disappointed to see the back of.

In Pool A, Australia exhibited their defensive strength as they ousted Wales 15-6 at Twickenham to secure top-spot and avoid a potential meeting with rampant South Africa in the last eight.

Despite no tries being scored in the match between two sides who had already qualified for the next round, the contest was hard-fought and provided the crowd with constant entertainment and drama throughout.

Fly-half Bernard Foley kicked all of the Wallabies’ points, while Dan Biggar got both of Wales’ penalties in a match where Australian’s rearguard action proved too strong for the Welsh side.

Wales wasted a golden opportunity to seize control of proceedings when Australia were reduced to 13 men for seven second half minutes following Will Genia and Dean Mumm being sent to the sin bin.

Australia’s heroic back row managed to keep the Welsh attacks at bay as they recorded their 11th consecutive win over the Welsh, who will play South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday (October 17).

England, who are the first hosts in the history of the competition to not make it out of the group stage, produced a dominant performance to end their Pool A campaign on a high with a 60-3 thrashing of minnows Uruguay at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.

37-year-old Nick Easter and Jack Nowell both bagged hat-tricks, Anthony Watson went over twice and Henry Slade also got his name on the scoresheet along with a penalty try to give England a commanding win over their South American opponents, who had just four professional players in their side.

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