Varndell scored twice for England but it was not enough
England crashed out of the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai after losing 31-26 in sudden-death extra-time in a pulsating quarter-final.
Samoa took a 21-7 lead before Tom Varndell scored his second try, while Ollie Phillips closed the gap to 21-19.
Samoa pulled away again and thought they had won when the hooter sounded - but there was still time left and Josh Drauniniu went over to tie the scores.
But Samoa's Simaika Mikaele jinked his way over in extra-time to seal victory.
"It is a pretty bitter pill to swallow," said England coach Ben Ryan. "It is certainly the most disappointing moment to date.
"I am hugely disappointed for the players because this was a World Cup-winning side that we had got together.
"They showed that last night and they showed it up until extra time when we came roaring back into it, when we just made a couple of the wrong decisions.
"Pressure reveals itself in different ways. We didn't hold on to the ball. Extra time is all about holding on to the ball and making sure that we create an opportunity and don't force things - there is no need to.
"We have got to take it on the chin. Now we have to go and smash everyone in Hong Kong and win the world series, which England have never done before."
England squad: Kevin Barrett (Exeter); Tom Biggs (Leeds); Chris Cracknell (Exeter); Isoa Damudamu (British Army/Wasps); Josh Drauniniu (Royal Navy/Exeter); Ben Gollings (Gold Coast, Australia); Ollie Phillips (captain, Newcastle); James Rodwell (Moseley); Charlie Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester); Tom Varndell (Leicester); Rob Vickerman (Leeds); Andy Vilk (Treviso).