England (23) 44
Skipper Corry scored two tries for England
Tries: Corry (2), Sackey (2)
Cons: Wilkinson (3)
Pens: Wilkinson (4)
Drops: Wilkinson (2)
Samoa (12) 22
England held off an inspired Samoan fightback to earn a 44-22 victory in an absorbing World Cup clash in Nantes.
Brian Ashton's men romped to a 23-6 lead after half an hour following a quick-fire try from Martin Corry and a further score from wing Paul Sackey.
Jonny Wilkinson chipped in with the boot but Samoa's Loki Crichton edged his side back to 23-12 at the break.
A Junior Polu try gave England a scare but Wilkinson's boot, and late scores from Corry and Sackey, saved the day.
The bonus-point win took England into joint second in Pool A with Tonga, who lost 30-25 to group winners South Africa.
England face Tonga in their last group game in Paris on 28 September in what will be a winner-takes-all clash for the second qualification place.
Wilkinson's 24 points made him only the third player after Wales' Neil Jenkins and Italy's Argentine-born fly-half Diego Dominguez to pass 1,000 points in international rugby.
Wilkinson kicked England out of a hole with 24 points
And his haul moved him ahead of Michael Lynagh (195) into second place in the list of the World Cup's all-time leading points-scorers with 206. Scotland great Gavin Hastings leads the standings with 227.
Samoa, who lost to Tonga earlier in the tournament, have still to face USA but their chances of qualification are over.
England made the perfect start when they charged down a kick from Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu and recycled the ball for skipper Corry to crash over in the right corner in the second minute.
Wilkinson converted and quickly added a drop-goal but Crichton pulled three points back, and some bullocking runs from Tuilagi brothers Alesana and Henry gave Samoa good field position from where Crichton added another kick.
England were playing a structured and controlled game, interspersed with bursts of Samoan magic from the likes of Polu, but Wilkinson kept the scoreboard ticking with another two penalties, though he missed a third on 25 minutes.
Ashton's men looked to be finding their rhythm and a sharp, fiery period from England on the half hour took them deep into the Samoan 22.
When the ball came out left to Wilkinson, his side-footed dink through the defensive line bounced favourably for the chasing Sackey to touch down.
But if England thought that would signal the end of the Samoan resistance, they were wrong. Very wrong.
A bold counter from an England punt took Samoa back into the opposition half and they came away with a quick penalty through Crichton, followed by two more as they ended the period strongly.
Crichton continued where he left off after the break as Wilkinson was penalised for "lazy running" or retreating too slowly. But England's fly-half made amends shortly after with a third penalty following Brian Lima's high tackle on him.
England, though, were rocked when snappy Samoan handling down the right flank following a miscued Josh Lewsey kick led to hooker Mahroni Schwalger chipping on.
Scrum-half Polu beat Mathew Tait in the foot race and his diving touchdown was ruled a try for 26-22.
If they didn't before, England now realised they were back in a serious rugby match.
Summoning up some extra fizz, England rumbled powerfully towards Samoa's line, but Wilkinson's mask of invincibility slipped a bit when he missed a free shot at a drop-goal and then the ensuing penalty that was coming anyway.
But Samoa stoked their own fires, and after a comedy of errors from both sides, England's Lewsey was forced to scramble desperately as the Pacific Islanders poured to within yards of the line.
England's defence held firm this time and Wilkinson was able to add a drop-goal with 10 minutes left after the referee had signalled a penalty was coming.
The fly-half slotted a penalty soon after to ease the tension and as England finished impressively, Corry and Sackey both popped up at the death to score their second tries.
England: Lewsey; Sackey, Tait, Barkley, Cueto; Wilkinson, Gomarsall; Sheridan, Chuter, Stevens, Shaw, Kay, Corry (capt), Worsley, Easter.
Replacements: Regan, Freshwater, Borthwick, Moody, Richards, Farrell, Hipkiss.
Samoa: Crichton; Lemi, Mapusua , Lima, A Tuilagi; Fuimaono-Sapolu, Polu; Lealamanua, Schwalger, Johnston, Tekori, Thompson, Leo, Sititi (capt), H Tuilagi.
Replacements: Fuga, Palaamo, Purdie, Vaeluaga, So'oialo, Meafou, Lui.