South Africa clawed their way back from nine points down to beat Ireland 16-12 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday.
In a tale of two halves, Ireland looked on course for a famous win after leading their visitors 12-3 at half-time.
The pressure was on for South Africa, but when it mattered, they delivered.
The Boks clicked into a higher gear after the break, scoring thirteen unanswered points to deny the Irish and open their end-of-year tour with a hard-fought win.
The result doesn't make pretty reading for Ireland coach Declan Kidney and his troops - since the World Cup, they've played nine games and have won just two of them. It also condemned Ireland to a fifth successive Test defeat, which is their worst losing run for 14 years as they failed to claim redemption for a painful 60-0 drubbing by New Zealand in June.
This was a Test match for the taking though for the Irish, who simply fell off the pace in the second half. There were opportunities for the hosts to shut South Africa out in the first forty, but those were squandered... leaving Ireland fans thinking what could have been.
Ultimately, South Africa hung on for a well deserved win grinded out with a solid forwards display.
Missing a whole host of players through injury, the Irish were expected to struggle against the Boks. It was anything but the case as for large parts Ireland dominated, whilst South Africa paid for their frequent ill-discipline.
Ireland took advantage of every entry into South Africa's half as fly-half Jonathan Sexton punished the visitors from the tee - nailing three penalties in the opening quarter to give his side a handy lead.
Sexton's opposite number Pat Lambie managed to put the Boks on the board with a penalty of his own from bang in front but missed another attempt from further out - proving just how much South Africa are missing the injured Frans Steyn's boot.
And when Sexton wasn't raising the flags with his sucessful kicks at goal, Ireland were full of running and passing the ball as if it were a hot potato - giving their visitors plenty of tackle practice.
Sexton's fourth penalty on the half-hour mark opened up a nine-point (12-3) lead for the Irish, and the Boks looked rattled. It then went from bad to worse for South Africa from the restart after wing JP Pietersen was sin-binned for an early hit on flank Chris Henry - leaving the visitors down to 14 men.
It certainly wasn't what the Boks needed, but breathed a sigh of relief a few minutes later when Sexton pushed his fifth penalty shot wide. The visitors, who did well not to concede any points with a man short, had a rare chance to close the gap on the stroke of half-time only for Ruan Pienaar to fail from far out with his first attempt.
The visitors made a better start to the second half though and when number eight Jamie Heaslip was given his marching orders, South Africa hit back with a try to Pienaar when the scrum-half went over from close range.
Lambie added the extras, and all of a sudden the tourists were right back in it (12-10).
The Springboks then hit the front for the first time in the match when Lambie slotted over his second penalty that silenced the crowd yet again (12-13). South Africa's one-point lead then turned into four after that man Lambie once again found his target which proved to be the final nail in Ireland's coffin.
Man of the match: Ireland's back-row made their presence felt but lock Mike McCarthy was the pick of the forwards while in the backs, Jonathan Sexton was near-flawless from the tee. For South Africa, Pat Lambie had a mixed performance but one that certainly won't cost him his place and Ruan Pienaar proved to be a thorn in Ireland's side all night. But we've gone for hooker Adriaan Strauss, who bulldozed his way through one Irish defender after another and threw his darts well at line-out time.
Moment of the match: Whilst JP Pietersen was also sin-binned, Jamie Heaslip's yellow card certainly changed the course of the match as South Africa claimed seven points in the Ireland skipper's absence.
Villain of the match: Pietersen's brain implosion that saw the Bok speedster smash into Chris Henry without the ball sparked a massive brawl, with plenty of pushing and shoving to get the blood boiling. But the Boks ended second best, after JP was given his marching orders.
Pens: Sexton 4
For South Africa:
Pens: Lambie 3
Ireland: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c), 7 Chris Henry, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Donncha O'Callaghan, 20 Iain Henderson, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ronan O'Gara, 23 Fergus McFadden.
South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 CJ van der Linde.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Morné Steyn, 22 Juan de Jongh, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
By Dave Morris