Pieter-Steph du Toit was in tears, Tendai Mtawarira led the “Bokke!” chants, and captain Siya Kolisi said a quite prayer.
The almost impossible had happened – the Springboks had beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand for the first time since 2009.
The 36-34 triumph at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington came off the back of two terrible displays in losing to Argentina in Mendoza and Australia in Brisbane, and Kolisi was almost at a loss for words afterwards.
“Very happy for what happened. It’s been a tough couple of weeks for the boys, and I think the way we carried ourselves this week, and the way we worked hard and believed in ourselves, it’s been a really good week. I have no words! I can’t say much,” Kolisi said in the post-match TV interview.
The Boks defended with their lives, scored five tries and this time around, they really believed that they could beat the world champions.
They never stopped chasing down those dangerous All Black strike-runners – despite conceding six tries on the night – and came up with the big play right at the end when two-try hero Aphiwe Dyantyi sped out of the defensive line to force a knock-on by Damian McKenzie to win the game.
“Our main thing is effort with the team. We’ve let ourselves down over the past couple of days. I think we showed a little bit of what we can do,” Kolisi said.
“Obviously we haven’t achieved much yet, and we must make sure that we build on what we did and started tonight. Just the belief this week – the way we carried ourselves.
“All we have is each other – we are away from home – and the boys just backed each other.
“It’s weird how last week we were struggling in the scrums, and today, we didn’t do anything different. It is just the belief and backing the guy next to you – that was the most important thing that we had to do today.”
Oddly enough, coach Rassie Erasmus suggested in the build-up that he could be in danger of being fired if the Boks lost to New Zealand.
Although that would’ve been far from the truth, there is no danger of that happening now.
“I’ve got to give credit to the coaching staff… They’ve kept calm, they didn’t put any pressure on us. It hasn’t been a different week – it’s been the same way we’ve prepared each and every week,” said Kolisi, who had a massive game himself.
“And I think it’s just the mindset that came with this week – they believed in us and backed us this week.
“All we wanted to do today was just to give our best, and give the 100 percent that we care for each other. Make sure the guy next to you respects you after the last whistle, and that is what we did.
“We gave ourselves a chance, and the boys did well. Should be proud of ourselves, but there is a lot more work to do.”
HIGHLIGHTS: 2018 TRC Rd 4: New Zealand v South Africa— TheRugbyChampionship (@SanzarTRC) September 15, 2018
It was a real classic of Freedom Cup history, with the @Springboks scoring their highest ever points tally in New Zealand against @Allblacks, to win 34-36. #RugbyChampionship #NZLvRSA pic.twitter.com/06ibF4stTR