Brisbane – Australia defended grimly to weather a fierce second-half assault and prevail 27-19 over Wales on Saturday in the first match of their three-Test series.

Trailing 17-3 minutes after the break, Wales closed the gap to just a point after a try to winger Alex Cuthbert in the 58th minute and some accurate kicking in tricky conditions by fullback Leigh Halfpenny on a drizzly night at Lang Park.

But Wallabies inside centre Pat McCabe eased the pressure with a try 10 minutes later and the hosts made a series of desperate tackles to deny the tourists in front of a crowd of more than 42,000.

“We had a lot of fun out there it was great to play in front of a crowd like this,” Wallabies skipper David Pocock said in a pitchside interview. “There was a huge focus on the breakdown. Both teams did pretty well there.”

The defeat continues Wales' winning drought in Australia and gives the Wallabies a 1-0 lead in the series, with the second Test in Melbourne next weekend. – Reuters