THE decade-long hoodoo is over after Wales beat Australia 9-6 in a bruising encounter ruled by defence.

Warren Gatland’s side hadn’t beaten the Wallabies since 2008 but after 13 straight losses took the spoils in a tense, gripping clash at Principality Stadium.

It was replacement fly-half Dan Biggar’s boot that proved to be the difference in the closing stages, just after the Aussies had appeared to have broken Welsh hearts in controversial circumstances.

A late hit by centre Samu Kerevi on full-back Leigh Halfpenny went unpunished and allowed Matt Toomua to level it up at 6-6 with just four minutes left.

However, the hosts wanted to change the script.

They struck right back to earn a penalty that Biggar, fresh on after Halfpenny was helped from the field, nervelessly slotted.

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It earned a timely victory in the final meeting between the sides before their Tokyo fixture in next year’s World Cup.

That is likely to be just as tight and tense, but probably a little more free-flowing.

This encounter had echoes of the 2012 clash when kicking had ruled until Kurtley Beale broke Welsh hearts with a breakaway score at the death to steal it 14-12.

With the roof shut the low scoring could not be attributed to the grim weather outside, instead it was just down to work that would have delighted defence guru Shaun Edwards and his Aussie counterpart Nathan Grey.

Neither line was crossed, nor were there a glut of blown chances. The closest to that came when Australia bafflingly attempted to drive their way over from penalties in the second half only for their lineout to fail to produce the goods.

Wales certainly didn’t sparkle in attack but they scrambled superbly in defence and in flanker Justin Tipuric had a menace that came up with key plays at crucial times.

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It was a fierce, slightly manic, start with both teams competing hard over the ball.

Australia came close to an opener when centre Samu Kerevi was worked in down the left only for Gareth Anscombe to put in a fine cover tackle.

The Wallabies then had their own let-off in the 14th minute when Leigh Halfpenny uncharacteristically pushed a kick wide from slightly right of the posts.

The Scarlets full-back doesn’t make the same mistake twice – on 21 minutes he knocked over three points after his pack had won a scrum penalty.

It was tight, tense and sadly lacking in quality as neither side was able to build up a head of steam.

Defences were on top but an offside allowed Bernard Foley to make it 3-3 after 33 with a sweetly-struck penalty.

The Wallabies were playing some typically delightful rugby behind, full of loops, sweet touches and deception, but Wales were keeping them out with a high tackle completion rate and some telling contributions from flanker Justin Tipuric.

That kept it level at the break – although it should have been 6-3 to the hosts only to Halfpenny to somehow miss another sitter in the 39th minute.

It remained nip and tuck at the start of the second half, both sides attempting to get into the wide channels but failing to get much change out of the defences.

Yet Australia still showed bravery with 50 minutes on the clock when they turned down a shot at goal, earned by a driving lineout, in favour of going for the corner.

Brave call, also a daft one. Wales defended well and forced a knock-on.

They repeated the trick on 53 minutes, albeit from wider on the left, when Liam Williams was pinged at the breakdown and once again the hosts escaped courtesy of an overthrow.

It remained 3-3 as the clock hit the hour, entering the “championship minutes” as Edwards had called them in midweek.

And Halfpenny was presented with a fourth effort at goal in the 68th minute when the Wallabies were offside, a chance that he grasped to make it 6-3.

Then came the controversial finish, Wales going behind and then responding. Maybe, just maybe, that resolve can give them an slight edge if it’s nervy in Japan.

Wales: L Halfpenny (D Biggar 73); G North (L Williams 46), J Davies, H Parkes, J Adams; G Anscombe, G Davies (T Williams 55); N Smith (R Evans 55), K Owens, T Francis (D Lewis 46), A Beard (C Hill 59), A W Jones (captain), D Lydiate (E Jenkins 59), J Tipuric, R Moriarty.
Scorers: penalties – L Halfpenny (2), D Biggar

Australia: D Haylett-Petty; I Folau, S Kerevi, K Beale, S Naivalu (J Maddocks 68); B Foley (M Toomua 64), W Genia; S Sio (S Kepu 59), T Latu (T Polota-Nau 55), A Alaalatoa (T Tupou 55), I Rodda, A Coleman (R Simmons 59), J Dempsey (N Hanigan 70), M Hooper (captain), D Pocock.
Scorers: penalties – B Foley, M Toomua

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (NZ)
Attendance: 64,110
Argus star man: Justin Tipuric