It started in Apia before the roosters crowed. 

It was 5:45am local time on Sunday and across Samoa’s capital there was a hullabaloo of cheers, car horns and shouting outside people’s homes.

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Those cheers would echo across the Pacific to Australia, New Zealand and even the United States.

During the next 24 hours, the Samoan faithful would parade and party in the streets to celebrate the nation’s most historic win in sport.

A group of Samoan rugby league players shout and grin as they leap on top of teammates after a big win.
Samoa celebrate after Stephen Crichton kicks the winning golden point drop goal to defeat England.(Getty Images: Gareth Copley)

Samoa shocked the world when it defeated host nation England 27-26 at the Rugby League World Cup.

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The game was won with a field goal in extra time, scoring a golden point.

Samoa is the first Pacific country to make the final at the Rugby League World Cup.

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Sweetening the victory, Samoa were rank underdogs after losing to England 60-6 in their opening game of the cup. Samoa was politely written off after that.

But the Toa Samoa stunned in the rematch, now considered one of the best matches the tournament has ever seen.

The Toa Samoa inspire young and old

Wellington resident Laree Taula said her teenage son Pouniu is a big fan of rugby league.

“He stayed up to watch game, he said he was screaming his head off, he was so proud. He was born in Samoa, both his sides are Samoan,” she said.

Later that day, Ms Taula saw people posting about the ‘Samoan street parades’ on Facebook and she decided to take her son.

“I was blown away, it was incredible … It seemed like hundreds of cars, people, and flags everywhere … I asked someone how long this would go for and they said way past midnight.”

City councils have largely turned a blind eye to the lack of permits and approvals of the impromptu festivities, which have blocked roads and traffic.

In Taula’s area of Porirua, Wellington celebrations went late into the night with some residents taking to social media to complain about the disturbance.

It was the same scene being played out across Australia’s eastern cities, Auckland and even Utah in the US.

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Samoa’s run to final breaks tradition

A Samoan rugby league player gives a mid-air hop as he tries to avoid being tackled by two England players.
Joseph Sua’ali’i was tipped to start for Australia, but was one of several NRL stars to declare to play for Samoa at the Rugby League World Cup. (Getty Images: Gareth Copley)

Australia, England and New Zealand have been the main contenders for the title in its 68-year history, with Australia winning every event except one since 1972.

Despite the historical dominance of the three nations, there were high expectations for Samoa and Tonga this year.

Many Pasifika NRL stars of dual eligibility withdrew from selection for Australia and New Zealand to represent their islander heritage.

It all had a bit of revolutionary buzz, especially with Tonga going into the tournament ranked world number two.

But Tonga failed to impress, and Samoa were written off after the demolition by England in their first game.

Samoa’s resurrection has upset the status quo. But their story isn’t over.

The team will now take on Australia at one of the most anticipated finals in the cup’s history.

It will be one for the ages if the Toa can defeat the Kangaroos, but so far Samoa’s journey at the World Cup feels like anything is possible. 

One thing is for sure,  if Samoa do win, the streets will be a wash of red flags and a display of pride and jubilation for days, if not weeks.