STEPHEN Crichton was Samoa’s golden boy as they snatched a shock World Cup final spot to shatter England’s dreams.
The Penrith Panthers star’s second try looked to have shattered the hopes but Herbie Farnworth’s second score – and Tommy Makinson’s fifth goal – sent it into golden point extra time.
Jack Welsby, though, produced one too many errors and Crichton dropped the winner from 30 yards to leave England’s players, coaching staff and the vast majority of more than 40,000 at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium distraught.
England had looked so good in the four games leading to this semi-final but were way off their best.
Now it is Samoa, who were humbled 60-6 by Shaun Wane’s men on the opening day, who face Australia at Old Trafford next Saturday.
Wane made the change he said he would as Luke Thompson replaced Matty Lees on England’s bench.
And the big message was, ‘Forget about the 60-6 hammering we dished out to Samoa four weeks ago.’
Yes, the Pacific islanders were undoubtedly better, even though they were missing Danny Levi and Martin Taupau, but his side should also have been.
However, England served up their worst 40 minutes of the tournament as Kallum Watkins’ centre channel was exposed by Salford clubmate Tim Lafai and Hull FC’s Ligi Sao.
Elliott Whitehead’s try put England 6-4 ahead but something was very wrong with Shaun Wane’s side in the opening half.
Lafai’s drop, though, allowed John Bateman to touch down under the posts. Still England, though, had to improve and they were soon trailing again, courtesy of Stephen Crichton after Junior Paulo’s brilliant offload.
And when wing star Dom Young clean drops a kick close to his own line, you know things are not going right!
When Lafai went in for his second to make the scores 12-20, hope started to fade but a huge hit from Mike McMeeken swung the game England’s way.
Farmworth held off tacklers to touch down and Makinson’s fourth goal, a penalty after Paulo hit Tomkins late as he kicked the ball, levelled it with 12 minutes left.
When George Williams broke the line, Farnworth finsihed off and Makinson held his nerve to send it into golden point.
Whitehead had already denied Anthony Milford but there was no stopping Crichton sending Samoa to Manchester.
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