The Springboks upset 36-34 win over the world champion All Blacks was rated “awesome” but “lucky” by the South Africans as they tempered celebrations in Wellington on Saturday.
South Africa’s first win in New Zealand since 2009 left the home side to chalk up their first Rugby Championship loss in three years.
It also snapped the visitors’ six match losing streak to the All Blacks dating back to 2014.
New Zealand outscored the Springboks six tries to five, but while Beauden Barrett had an off night with the boot, South African pivot Handre Pollard was successful with five out of six shots at goal.
“I’s an awesome day for the team and an awesome day for South Africa,” captain Siya Kolisi said.
But coach Rassie Erasmus said his team were lucky to win.
“We could have lost it in the last few seconds,” he said, after replacement All Black Damian McKenzie spilled the ball a few metres short of the line in the game’s final play.
After arriving in New Zealand on the back of losses to Argentina and Australia, Erasmus said his squad had lost some self-belief and a victory against the All Blacks on their home turf was “unbelievable”.
“There’s no way we can get ahead of ourselves,” he added. “This was one win with a bit of luck against the best team in the world.”
The All Blacks, who remain head of the table with two rounds to play, dominated possession but were stunned by the strong South African defence.
“Congratulations to South Africa. They played particularly well and took all the chances that were there,” coach Steve Hansen said.
“We’re obviously disappointed and there are areas we have to work on.
“Anytime you lose it hurts. The dressing room is sombre, very quiet. but its important we learn something, otherwise it’s waste of time.”
With time up, and two points in arrears, the All Blacks aimed a series of forward drives at the line without reward, and then moved the ball wide where it was knocked on.
Captain Kieran Read said there was talk on the field about a drop goal, but the option to continue the attack was chosen.