BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 09: Sam Warburton of Wales is tackled during the international test match between the Australian Wallabies and Wales at Suncorp Stadium on June 9, 2012 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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