AUCKLAND (AFP) - South Africa weathered a furious onslaught from Samoa in a World Cup classic to book their place in the quarter-finals and move a step closer to defending their title on Friday. The Springboks took an early 13-0 lead but they were rocked by a punishing assault in the second half as George Stowers powered over to cut the deficit to 13-5 and Samoa sniffed an historic upset. Samoan full-back Paul Williams was red-carded and South Africas John Smit was sin-binned on his record 110th Test in a breathless finish, but there was no further score as the Pacific islanders bowed out with dignity intact. Samoa have suffered controversies when centre Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu called the schedule slavery after their loss to Wales, and wing Alesana Tuilagi is awaiting a hefty fine for wearing the wrong type of mouthguard. I wasnt disappointed, Im pretty proud of what my boys did out there tonight, said Samoa captain Mahonri Schwalger. They gave it all for our people and for our country. South Africas win makes Wales near-certain to qualify unless they lose by a huge margin to Fiji on Sunday, and sets up a compelling last weekend of pool matches. Old rivals England and Scotland are preparing for a titanic clash on Saturday, while Ireland face a difficult test against Italy on Sunday. Despite a giant injury list which has forced backrow forward Radike Samo on to the wing, Australia will take their place in the last eight against Russia, and France have a seemingly straightforward task against Tonga. Argentina should canter past Georgia, Wales play Fiji and already-qualified New Zealand entertain Canada. Barring upsets, the quarter-finals will be split into northern and southern hemispheres with Ireland playing Wales and England facing France in one half, and New Zealand versus Argentina and South Africa against Australia in the other. Scotland go into their 129th, and arguably most important, game against England and the first on neutral ground knowing only a win will do as they aim to preserve their record of never failing to reach the quarter-finals. Historians like looking back, Im the type of guy who likes looking forward and looking forward to challenges that are there, said Scotlands coach Andy Robinson, the former England handler. All the boys are prepared to put their bodies on the line every time they play for Scotland. Ive been delighted with the way theyve approached everything since Ive been involved as head coach. Englands 2003 World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson, who booted the winning points in the Sydney final, will be without his kicking coach who is barred from the stadium for illegally switching balls for conversions against Romania. Head coach Martin Johnson denied 'ballgate would have any effect on his team, which has also had to deal with stories involving centre Mike Tindall and a mystery blonde, and a two-match ban on lock Courtney Lawes. Its not one thing after another. Most of the time were training and getting ready for games, Johnson said. If you come to a World Cup theres going to be a few bumps in the road. You may regard them as big, we just get on with it. Weve dealt with those things, weve dealt with this. We move on. Meanwhile a report said All Blacks great Jonah Lomu was in really bad shape as he battles kidney problems in an Auckland hospital.