The Springboks were happy to celebrate another ‘ugly’ win, rather than an unaesthetic loss.
South Africa beat France 29-26 thanks to a dramatic last-minute try in torrential rain at the Stade de France on Saturday.
It put their year-end tour back on track, following the heartbreaking and sickening one-point (11-12) loss in the opening match at Twickenham last week.
Replacement hooker Mbongeni Mbonambi’s touchdown after 85 minutes extended South Africa’s nine-year unbeaten run against France and restored some confidence for coach Rassie Erasmus with less than a year to go until the start of the World Cup in Japan – where his team face world number one side the All Blacks in the group stages.
Erasmus was under no illusions that the performance was somewhat below the required standards.
“We were rewarded for our work,” Erasmus said in his post-match reaction.
“Clearly it wasn’t a perfect match, but we learnt to manage the pressure,” he added.
Match-winner Mbongeni Mbonambi was happy to share the praise for their last-gasp victory.
“Credit to the whole team,” Mbonambi said.
“It was a massive team effort.
“We didn’t give up and in the end, it all paid off.”
France coach Jacques Brunel was left to rue a number of errors.
“We allowed them to keep in touch with us because of little mistakes,” Brunel said.
“We lacked control,” he added.
Bok skipper Siyamthanda Kolisi was also happy to focus on the ‘positives’.
“It was an incredible finish and the boys showed fight and perseverance,” Kolisi said.
“It was tough, but we’ll take the win.
“We picked it up in the second half.”
French scrum-half Baptiste Serin scored the first points of the game with a penalty goal and he added a second on 12 minutes.
Flyhalf Handre Pollard opened the visitors’ account with his own effort on 13 minutes to cross the 300-points barrier in Test rugby.
The Springboks drew level with a quarter of the match played with the flyhalf’s second penalty goal.
Pollard put the visitors into the lead for the first time after 28 minutes, with an effort from 45 metres.
Camille Lopez pulled the teams level once again with a well-struck drop-goal, his first in 16 Tests.
France captain and hooker Guilhem Guirado crossed for his team’s first try after breaking away from a maul to dive over the Boks’ line for the final points of the first half.
Centre Mathieu Bastareaud grabbed France’s second try and Serin added the extras to extend their side’s advantage to 23-9 after two minutes of the second period.
Seconds later lock Sebastien Vahaamahina dropped Pollard’s restart and it was the visitors who made the most of the greasy ball as wing Sibusiso Nkosi crossed in the corner.
Pollard added his fourth penalty to close the gap to four points with less than half an hour to play.
He brought his side within a point ten minutes later after French flank Arthur Iturria was penalised for a dangerous tackle.
Serin added his fourth three-pointer of the match to regain a four-point advantage for Jacques Brunel’s side.
However, with 85 minutes on the clock, a clean South African line-out on the French five-metre line was followed by replacement Mbonambi’s unopposed break to the right of the set-piece to secure the victory.