Wales survived second half comeback by the Brumbies to win 15-25 after taking a strong half time lead at Canberra Stadium on Tuesday.
First half tries from James Hook Justin Tipuric and Alun Wyn Jones took Wales out to a 6-19 lead at half time but had to withstand a second half charge by the Brumbies as the penalty count mounted in the home side's favour.
Wales scored the only tries of the match as the Brumbies had to rely on Zac Holmes' boot for theif five penalties.
Ospreys and Wales flanker Justin Tipuric said after the match that that even though they had targeted the breakdown they struggled in the department.
"It was fast and very tough at the breakdown tonight - it was great experience for the guys to play against a Super 15 side," Tipuric told the WRU.
"We tried to target the breakdown area. It's obviously refereed differently over here and another learning curve for the guys so the win is a great boost for the squad going into the second Test against Australia on Saturday."
Wales led 19-6 at the interval and had to withstand a second half revival from the home side but the Welsh defence held firm as the Brumbies butchered a three-man overlap and other clear cut chances to see their challenge fizzle out.
On a chilly evening, both teams attempted to run the ball early on but it was the home side who took the lead on nine minutes when Zac Holmes booted over the first of his five penalties.
Wales scored their opening try in the 18th minute after quick thinking by scrum half Rhys Webb. The Ospreys halfback took a quick tap and shot down the blindside before off-loading to Hook who plunged over in a tackle. He converted his own try to put Wales in front.
In the first half Wales enjoyed being in charge with Hook floating out passes beautifully with Ashley Beck in particular enjoying the room provided. Wales were also in charge at the breakdown where their physical and aggressive attitude intimidated the home side.
Beck was instrumental in Wales's second try, bursting through a tackle before off-loading to the supporting Tipuric who did the rest. Again Hook added the extras.
Holmes reduced the arrears with another penalty but Wales struck back immediately. Webb again attacked with intent and after several surges by the forwards, Jones powered his way over the try-line.
Paul James replaced Alun Wyn Jones as captain after the second row was replaced by Ospreys colleague Ian Evans at the break. Later in the second half Tipuric took over the captaincy as James was replaced by Rhys Gill.
Howley said the match had thrown up a number of selection choices for him ahead of the second Test.
"We always have headaches," Howley said.
"We've got two forward packs that can go head-to-head and it's great to have those decisions to be made and they'll be made over the next 48 hours."
Final Score Brumbies 15 (6) Wales 25 (19)
Pens: Holmes 5
Tries: Hook, Tipuric, AW Jones
Cons: Hook 2
Pens: Hook 2
1. Ruaidhri Murphy,2. Anthony Hegarty,3. Scott Sio,4. Leon Power,5. Ben Hand (c),6. Peter Kimlin,7. Colby Faingaa,8. Ita Vaea,9. Ian Prior,10. Zack Holmes,11. Kimami Sitauti,12. Andrew Smith,13. Tevita Kuridrani,14. Cam Crawford,15. Robbie Coleman
Replacements: 16. Siliva Siliva,17. Jean-Philippe (JP) Pradaud,18. Dylan Sigg,19. Fotu Auelua,20. Beau Mokoputo,21. Tom Cox,22. Jesse Mogg
Liam Williams; Harry Robinson, Andrew Bishop, Ashley Beck, Aled Brew; James Hook, Rhys Webb; Paul James, Richard Hibbard, Rhodri Jones; Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Luke Charteris; Josh Turnbull, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Shingler.