Ireland (13) 20
Tries: Heaslip, O'Gara Cons: O'Gara 2 Pens: O'Gara 2
Samoa (7) 10
Try: Tuilagi Cons: Williams Pens: Williams
Highlights - Ireland 20-10 Samoa
Ireland ended a run of four straight Test defeats but it was another unconvincing display as they struggled to subdue a physical Samoa side.
Jamie Heaslip's 18th-minute try helped Ireland lead 10-0 but Leicester star Alesana Tuilagi replied for the visitors with the score of the match.
Ireland's 13-7 half-time lead was cut to three points as Samoa dominated.
But Peter Stringer's quick penalty enabled Ronan O'Gara to score a late try which eased Irish nerves.
While debutant Devin Toner helped the Irish line-out to function more effectively the Irish scrum was a mess for most of the match and New Zealand are unlikely to be quaking in their boots ahead of next weekend's contest.
A half-full Aviva Stadium witnessed O'Gara nudging Ireland ahead with a second-minute penalty but the Samoans responded with some enterprising attacks.
Mahonri Schwalger's line-out was gathered at the back by Kane Thompsen and Tommy Bowe had to produce a big tackle to force Tuilagi into touch.
Irish full-back Luke Fitzgerald then needed to produce a jinking thrust out of his own defence after another Samoan midfield attack.
Boosted by Fitzgerald's charge, the Irish pack forced their way into the Samoan 22 and a series of drives culminated with Heaslip burrowing his way over for his fifth international try in the 18th minute.
O'Gara added the conversion to five the Irish a flattering 10-0 lead but undaunted the Samoans fought back with a try of their own five minutes later.
Fly-half Tasesa Lavea superbly gathered a low pass on his boot laces and his quick delivery found a charging Mapusua who released Leicester star Tuilagi to score in emphatic fashion under the posts.
Samoan Williams added the conversion and suddenly there was only three points between the teams.
Ireland's new boy, the six foot 10 inch Toner was doing his stuff in the line-out but the home side were struggling in the scrum with both props Tom Court and John Hayes being penalised by referee Keith Brown.
A number of their referee's scrum calls annoyed the home side but Ireland's front-row struggles could not all be attributed to the officiating.
O'Gara added to Ireland's lead with a penalty before half-time but it had been another stuttering 40 minutes for the home side.
Samoa dominated possession in the 15 minutes after half-time as the Irish scrum continued to suffer.
The visitors probably should have had more to show from their superiority than Paul Williams' 53rd-minute penalty as Ireland's lead was cut to three points.
Declan Kidney attempted to sort out Ireland's front row problems after an hour by making a double substitution with Cian Healy and Rory Best replacing John Hayes and Sean Cronin.
Tom Court also switched to tight-head and Irish scrum immediately looked a more solid unit.
A disrupted Samoan scrum allowed Donncha O'Callaghan to kick ahead and replacement Stephen Ferris' tackle forced the visitors to concede a penalty deep in their own 22.
In the crucial moment of the game, Stringer's clever tap penalty set up his half-back partner O'Gara to score under the posts as the Samoan defence fatally showed a lack of concentration for the first time in the match.
O'Gara added the simple conversion to give the Irish an undeserved 20-10 advantage.
As Ireland finally began to dominate possession, Healy was held up as he charged over the Samoan line but the home team's late rally didn't mask another disappointing display.
Ireland: Fitzgerald, Bowe, Brian O'Driscoll, Paddy Wallace, Trimble, O'Gara, Stringer (Boss 77), Court, Cronin (Best 61), Hayes (Healy 64), O'Callaghan, Toner (Ryan 68), Leamy, O'Brien, Heaslip (Ferris 61).
Not Used: Sexton, Earls.
Samoa: Paul Williams, Lemi, Pisi (Gavin Williams 78), Mapusua, Alesana Tuilagi, Lavea (Poluleuligaga 69), Fotualii, Taulafo (Lemalu 77), Schwalger, Anthony Perenise, Levi (Tekori 71), Thompson, Treviranus (Aiono 71), Salavea, Stowers.
Not Used: Fualau, Helleur.
Referee: Keith Brown (New Zealand)