Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer and All Blacks captain Richie McCaw both agreed that Ma'a Nonu's try early in the second half was the turning point in New Zealand's victory at Soccer City on Saturday.
South Africa led 16-12 at half time but a midfield defensive lapse in the 42nd minute allowed Israel Dagg and Kieran Read to combine and set up a try for Nonu that put the visitors in front, which silenced the massive local crowd and ultimately took the wind out of the Boks' sails.
"I thought at 16-12 we were in the game and we had them under pressure," said Meyer.
"The turning point came just after half time. We gave away a turnover against the best team in the world and suddenly we were behind.
"And then I think Dan Carter was superb. Once they are ahead and you have to chase the game, he can just control the game.
"You're never going to beat them chasing the game."
Meyer put South Africa's defensive errors down to a lack of experience, adding that fly-half Johan Goosen's early injury meant that the hosts were playing with unsettled defensive combinations.
McCaw said that the period after the break was crucial in wrestling the initiative back from the hosts.
'"Traditionally the period just before and just after half time is key," agreed McCaw.
"We had a pretty stern talking to amongst ourselves after conceding a penalty just before the break. When we were able to struck back just after half time you could see the boys lift. So to start off like that was pretty good.
"From there we were able to control it."