Samoa were beaten 60-6 by hosts England in the Rugby League World Cup opening match in mid-October.
Fast forward nearly a month later and in one of the most extraordinary turnarounds in sporting history, Samoa pipped England 27-26 to reach the tournament’s final.
A drop-goal from Stephen Crichton in extra-time secured the stunning upset at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in London.
MORE: England vs. Samoa result, highlights as Stephen Crichton golden-point drop goal seals historic Rugby League World Cup final spot
Their reward? A meeting against reigning champions and unbackable favourites Australia in World Cup final at Old Trafford on Saturday, November 19 (Sunday, November 20 AEDT).
Samoa coach Matt Parish was under no illusions of how tough a match against the Kangaroos would be, but he still found time to revel in the triumph of the Pacific nation.
“We are obviously going against a world class team next week,” Parish said post-match.
“It was inspirational. To put Samoa in the World Cup final, the tiny little dot in the middle of the Pacific is just incredible.
“Inspirational and passionate, that’s what this team is all about.
“Passion and pride. It is an unbelievable effort from these guys.
“We have had our critics. A few things have gone against us. Five guys have gone home. We are down to the bare bones.
“These guys keep turning up for each other. They have got each others’ back.
“Plenty of people had plenty to say four weeks ago about going on planes home and all that.”
England coach Shaun Wane couldn’t hide his disappointment at the result on home soil and took responsibility for the shock defeat.
“We were not good enough, the best team won. I’m gutted, absolutely wounded,” Wane said
“I was never happy in that game, we were below our standards. There is some soul searching going on from us staff. The players have been great, I don’t doubt their effort.
“Samoa were the best team today. We didn’t do the right things at the right time and I blame myself.
“We have to be better, this is not good enough. I blame me. We have to be better, semi-final is not good enough.”