Australia bagged their first win in the Rugby Championship after seeing off South Africa 26-19 at Perth's Patersons Stadium on Saturday.
Both sides desperately needed a win to have any chance of catching the All Blacks in the race for the trophy, and were under pressure to deliver.
With the scores locked at 19-19, the Wallabies showed more composure and celebrated a Ben Alexander try in the 70th minute that ultimately secured a much-needed victory for the hosts.
As for the Springboks, who led 13-6 at half-time, it's back to the drawing board as they face an even tougher assignment against the All Blacks next weekend.
It was Australia's fifth straight win over the South Africans and moves the Wallabies off the bottom of the Rugby Championship standings and above newcomers Argentina. South Africa didn't leave Perth empty-handed though after securing a losing bonus point.
Victory for the home side may have come at a cost, however, as they suffered extensive injuries - most notably to that of captain Will Genia who was forced from the field in some distress.
The visitors started the match with a roar and hiss, putting several eight-plus phases together before pivot Morne Steyn made up for an early missed drop-goal attempt with a well-struck penalty to open the scoring in the third minute.
Berrick Barnes leveled proceedings with a three-pointer of his own, but the Boks hit back with a try after flyer Bryan Habana crashed over from close range and South Africa were well on top at 13-3 following Steyn's converson and a 55m penalty shot from his namesake Frans.
Barnes closed the gap slightly with his second successful penalty attempt, and the Boks did well to keep Australia scoreless for 10 minutes when prop Beast Mtawarira was sin-binned for foul play.
The Wallabies were a different kettle of fish after the break and continued to bank three-pointers whenever they ventured into South Africa's half. The alarm bells started ringing in the Springbok camp ain the 56th minute after Wallabies super-sub Scott Higginbotham burst through for a try just two minutes after coming onto the field.
Barnes slotted over the conversion to give his team the lead for the first time in the match (16-13).
Long-range penalty specialist Frans Steyn launched another penalty kick from near the halfway line to put South Africa level (16-16), before Barnes' reliable boot once again put Australia in front.
Morne Steyn gave Bok supporters a glimmer of hope after tying the scores yet again (19-19) in the 60th minute. But South Africa had no answer for Alexander, who made a 15m charge down the blindside to touch down in the left-hand corner - confirmed by the TMO.
Barnes converted from the sideline, It was to the be the last score of the game, a late surge for an equalising try by the Springboks ending with a penalty to Australia in the dying seconds.
Man of the match: Lock Sitaleki Timani was named the official man of the match, but we felt the unerring accuracy of Berrick Barnes - who was six-from-six with the boot - takes the cake.
Moment of the match: Ben Alexander's inspirational late try not only lifted Australia to a crucial victory, but also easeed pressure on coach Robbie Deans.
Villain of the match: The Boks can thank their lucky stars they didn't concede a single point after Beast Mtawarira's yellow card after he ran into Kurtley Beale off the ball.
Tries: Higginbotham, Alexander
Cons: Barnes 2
Pens: Barnes 4
For South Africa:
Con: M Steyn
Pens: M Steyn 2, F Steyn 2
Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Dominic Shipperley, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia (c), 8 Radike Samo, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Scott Higginbotham, 19 Liam Gill, 20 Nick Phipps, 21 Mike Harris, 22 Anthony Fainga'a.
South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Francois Hougaard 10 MornÃ© Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Francois Louw, 20 Johan Goosen, 21 Pat Lambie, 22 Lwazi Mvovo.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)