Captain Muldoon is Connacht hero
Connacht 26 Samoa 22: Connacht skipper John Muldoon came off the bench to score the match-winner in a 26-22 win over Samoa on a famous night at the Sportsground.
Both sides showed a great willingness from the outset to run with the ball in hand and there was no shortage of entertainment during an open first-half.
Twice Samoa looked like they would pull away, but Connacht hauled them back bravely on both occasions.
Samoan scrum-half Junior Poluleuligaga created the opening try for blindside flanker Misioka Timoteo with a superb switch pass after 19 minutes, but the boot of Nikora, a Kiwi of Samoan extraction, hauled Connacht back into contention with three penalties.
Some sloppy defending undid a lot of hard work as Samoan openside Falemiga Selesele broke from the base of a ruck to dart over six minutes from the break.
Out-half Lolo Lui maintained his 100 per cent record with another conversion to push Samoa 17-9 in front, but the Connacht response was excellent with Nikora and centres Aidan Wynne and Eoin Griffin working it through the hands and full-back Troy Nathan did well to switch back inside before being bundled into touch for Brian Tuohy to race in and score.
Nikora added the points to leave it 17-16 at half-time.
Connacht hit the front for the first time two minutes after the restart when Nikora added another penalty after Samoan scrum-half Poluleuligaga was binned for killing the ball.
The introduction of Muldoon and Conor O'Loughlin lifted Connacht and they hit the front after some great forward play was finished when Muldoon barged over.
Nikora landed the touchline conversion to make it six kicks from six in a 16 points haul and that summed up Connacht's great economic performance.