Springboks edged out the home side at Millennium Stadium.
South African coach Heyneke Meyer hailed his experienced team of campaigners for not buckling under pressure and seizing their chances in their 24-15 victory over Wales on Saturday.
The three tries-to-nil win was the Springboks’ 25th win from 27 starts in a fixture that stretches back 107 years, and was achieved in a war of attrition marked by some brutal collisions.
“It was a really tough encounter. We knew it was going to be very physical out there,” said Meyer, praising his team’s superior tactical kicking and aggressive driving maul, but lamenting the poor standard of scrummaging on show.
“I thought it could have gone either way but I’m very happy we were very focused and disciplined and showed the experience in the team by scoring three tries against a very good attacking side.
“We used every single chance we got and scored some great tries. I didn’t feel there was any panic in the side.
“We’ll keep our feet on the ground, stay humble and move on to the next game.”
Captain Jean de Villiers, who scored South Africa’s opening try, added: “The start is always important and we started well and got a nice lead.
“At one stage they got within two points (at 17-15) and that’s the only time I thought they might have a chance, but we felt in control for most of the game and I think our experience showed in the way we finished and closed out the game.”
Injuries marred the match, Wales coming off worse, but the ‘Boks also losing fly-half Morne Steyn after 18 minutes with a back spasm, full-back Pat Lambie stepping into the play-making role with aplomb.
Meyer also hailed recalled Japan-based players Jaque Fourie and scrum-half Fourie du Preez, who combined for the latter to score South Africa’s third, decisive try.
“Jaque and Fourie won the game with that last try,” Meyer said, fast following-up Fourie providing a deft inside offload to Du Preez after the scrum-half had put in a speculative clearance kick.
“You can’t take away that magic and experience.
“The great thing about these guys is that when they came back they were like little boys who wanted to play for their country, excited, they brought a new vibe and a great enthusiasm.”
Meyer said the goal now was two more victories, against Scotland and France on successive weekends.
“Scotland will be tough and France we haven’t beaten in 16 years so every single game is tough. We take it game by game,” he said.
“There is no resting at international level. We will manage the guys because it has been a long season.
“Firstly we want to win and secondly it’s a five-day turnaround between Scotland and France. You have to calculate the risk and decision to have guys 100 percent fresh for Scotland and 100 percent fit for France.
“We have a lot of confidence in the guys.”