Missing ample opportunities in the first half caused the wound and conceding three goals in the second was the salt Germany rubbed into it in South Africa’s second World League Hockey League Semi-Finals match at Wits on Thursday.
The result was a 4-3 defeat at the hands of the world’s third ranked team despite going into the half-time break having bossed their more esteemed opposition.
The hosts launched an impressive fightback in the final quarter of the match as they scored two goals and threatened to claim a fourth to level the scores.
South Africa waited for Germany to gain a three-goal advantage before they managed to get the rub of the green.
The home side would have been satisfied with their performances in the opening and closing quarters of the game which they dominated.
It was not enough to claim a famous victory over the Germans, who scored three goals in the third quarter.
After South Africa wasted their fourth penalty corner the Germans moved the ball to the other end to take the lead courtesy of Moritz Trompertz.
The second half got off to a disappointing start for South Africa with Niklas Wellen producing some individual brilliance to sneak the ball past keeper Rassie Pieterse and into the back of the net.
The Germans added their third only two minutes later with Pietersen managing to defend the onslaught twice from a penalty corner only for Mats Grambusch to score.
At this stage the match seemed to completely unravel for South Africa but the Proteas launched a gutsy fightback which nearly resulted in a draw.
Playing in his 150th international for South Africa, Austin Smith finally landed a shot into the top of the net from a penalty corner in the 37th minute.
Germany immediately returned their lead to three goals scoring a minute later with Timm Herzbruch getting onto the scoresheet.
The final quarter belonged to the South Africans as they dominated proceedings with Smith getting a brace from another penalty corner in the 50th minute.
Jonty Robinson slid across to get the ball into the box to close the deficit to one with less than five minutes left.
Getting a sniff of a morale-boosting draw South Africa camped out in the German half.
With less than a minute left in the match the Proteas were rewarded a penalty corner which keeper Mark Appel saved to hold on for a hard-fought victory.