Springbok captain Siya Kolisi praised the South African mentality as his world champions ended their eight-year wait for a win over Wales in Cardiff with a 23-18 victory on Saturday.
The visitors were twice six points behind in the match and still trailed when replacement hooker Malcolm Marx was driven over from a close-range line-out seven minutes from time at a rainswept Principality Stadium.
Elton Jantjies rounded off the scoring with the last kick of the match following five earlier Springbok penalties — four from fly-half Handre Pollard and a monster effort from replacement Frans Steyn.
This was South Africa’s first win in five Tests against Wales in Cardiff, with the Springboks having edged a World Cup semi-final 19-16 in Japan when the teams last met two years ago.
South Africa edged out New Zealand 31-29 last month, having previously won a hard-fought series against the British and Irish Lions 2-1.
“We know the kind of team Wales are, it’s always been tough when we play against them,” Kolisi told reporters. “We know they are going to go for 80 minutes.
“But we work really hard and also I think it’s just a South African thing. We come from a country where people just don’t accept defeat.”
The flanker added: “That’s one thing we pride ourselves in…the coach knows we can go to tough places and we are able to live there for a very long time.
“We are very privileged to be able to do what we love and put smiles on people’s faces back home. We go through so many struggles, that people get so excited when we play.
“We know we’ve got 80 minutes. Whatever you do you can change someone’s mood in a couple of minutes.”
South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber added: “We’re glad to break the hoodoo here. We got exactly what we thought we were going to get.”
But he was concerned by the way the Springboks repeatedly gave away penalties, with fly-half Dan Biggar kicking all of Wales’ points.
“Our discipline was poor (in the first half). It’s something I thought we did well in the second half, we found solutions to that.”
But the result might have been different but for an extraordinary incident with the scores level at 15-15 in the 65th minute.
Replacement back Liam Williams was on the attack but had to jump over a pitch invader in a move that snuffed out any hope of a Welsh try.
“Look, I don’t know. We just saw a two-versus-one type situation forming up,” said Wales coach Wayne Pivac.
“You don’t want to see that in the game,” added Pivac of an incident that followed a serial pitch invader — who disrupted Ireland’s game against Japan on Saturday — lining up with the All Blacks for the New Zealand national anthem ahead of Wales’ 54-16 loss last week.
“It’s very disappointing that happened, but there was nothing the officials could do about that.”
Wales, despite being without injured captain Alun Wyn Jones, performed creditably against the Springboks.
“The guys put in a heck of a shift,” said Pivac.
“If you look at the performance last week, coming up against South Africa in these conditions was always going to be a big ask, and I thought the boys came up well.”