Nelspruit - South Africa and Wales were left with contrasting emotions in the wake of the home side's 31-30 success in Saturday's second test but both will seek to use the experience as positive preparation for next year's World Cup.
The Springboks cantered to a 38-16 first test victory in Durban but were far more satisfied with their battling qualities in the series-clinching win in Nelspruit.
They were put under immense pressure by a fired-up and clinical Welsh side, but clawed their way in front with two late tries and then showed big heart in defence to stave off defeat.
It was not pretty from the home side, who made far too many errors in the game, but captain Victor Matfield believes it is a result that will give the team plenty of confidence.
“You need character to win the World Cup and we displayed some of that today,” he said in a media release issued by SARU.
“Our defence in last minutes to win the match was testimony of our will and mind-set. We won this by coming back from behind.
“Last week, we played well from the start, this time we had to come from behind. We were under massive pressure for most of the match, but came good when it counted.”
The veteran lock, who played a South African record 112th test match, praised the Welsh effort, saying they did not give the Springboks the territory they enjoyed in the first match.
“Last week, we could get out of our own half and apply pressure to Wales in their half. This time around, we did not manage to do that and it gave them a lot of space to run at us,” he said.
“With them leading, they had confidence and got stuck into us. We did not retaliate though, took the pressure well and responded at the right time.”
Wales have never won in South Africa and not only was this the closest they have come, but also the most points they have scored against the Boks away in the last 50 years of trying.
Captain Alan Wyn Jones cut a disconsolate figure after the game, knowing how close his side had come to what would have been one of the great feats in Welsh rugby history.
However, he does believe the performance showed the side were making positive strides in the build up to the World Cup in England.
“We are 15 to 16 months out from the World Cup, hopefully, this will send a bit of a flare up into the sky to say we are still here and hopefully we can be contenders,” he told reporters.