The Springboks couldn't quite pull it through against the All Blacks at Newlands, but will take a lot of good vibes from that epic Test match.
KweséESPN looks at South Africa's effort during the Rugby Championship, and evaluates what the Boks can still work on to improve before the end-of-year tour in November and December.
Attacking game is progressing
Their offloads and passes didn't always come off, and for the most part they didn't take their chances, but the Boks' intent to take the game to the opposition is a very good sign. If they can get this part of their game to gel with the physicality and intensity they showed at Newlands, they will be hard to stop when they get some cohesion on attack.
The Newlands response can be a platform for bigger things
Besides the opening 20 minutes, the Boks were flat footed in Albany -- both on attack and defence. But at Newlands they took the game to the New Zealanders and rattled them with their physicality and intent. This is the sort of tempo and intensity needed to compete with the best. Although the home team lost at Newlands, they took a huge step forward in their development.
New heroes are coming to the fore
They didn't always work well as a unit, but there are suddenly some world-class players coming through in the Bok pack. Coenie Oosthuizen looks like he is finally coming to terms with the tighthead position, while Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff and Jean-Luc du Plessis have ushered in a new breed of no-nonsense Boks.
The set pieces were a shambles against the top sides
After injuries to Frans Malherbe and Oosthuizen, the Boks struggled to dominate at scrum time, while their lineout also went to pieces on that fateful night in Albany. The scrum and lineout were better in the last two matches against Australia and New Zealand, but they will have to sharpen up ahead of a difficult end-of-year tour.
The Albany drubbing was an epic disaster
The defeat in Albany showed just how mentally fragile this Springbok team is. After a few 50-50 calls didn't go their way, and the bounce of the ball eluded them, they crept back into their shell after throwing everything into that first 20 minutes.
Composure and executing under pressure are what separate the All Blacks from the rest of the rugby nations. The Boks need to stay calm when things aren't going their way.
Questions remain about the backline
While the Bok pack produced some top individual performances, there is a massive cloud of uncertainty hanging over the back division. The Boks aren't hurting the opposition in the wide channels, while they also didn't defend well there either. It's going to interesting to see what sort of changes -- if any -- there will be for the end-of-year tour to spice up the Bok attack.
PLAYERS WHO MADE THEIR MARK
He put his Albany lineout-throwing shocker behind him and produced one of the best displays by a Springbok hooker against the All Blacks in Saturday's Test at Newlands. Marx is a power player, carrying with force and tackling with venom. But he is also good at the breakdown, as he won a plethora of penalties for the Boks on the ground in Cape Town.
'Rooi Gevaar' (Red Danger) could become one of South Africa's greatest-ever looseheads. He had a massive impact on the Bok cause every time he came off the bench, as his powerful scrumming and energy and physicality around the park gave the Boks timely boosts. However, his best match came in his start against the All Blacks. Simply outstanding.
Kolisi has been absolute fantastic for the Boks, playing a number of different roles in the back row. He showed his versatility by playing towards the ball, executing a linking role and also ensuring that nobody slips through the fringes of the Bok rucks. He seems to be enjoying his senior role in the team, and is a natural-born leader.
PLAYERS WHO NEED TO PULL UP THEIR SOCKS
The fullback didn't quite replicate his form against France in the Rugby Championship. He tried hard on attack, but didn't have the same sort of impact for the Boks that Damian McKenzie and Israel Folau had for the All Blacks and the Wallabies, respectively. His kicking out of hand was also quite quirky.
The Lions pivot needs to find that consistency in his game to become a real force at this level. He went missing in a couple of matches in the Rugby Championship when the Boks needed a general to see them through tough periods in matches. His tactical kicking also needs some polish, but, while he did miss one or two crucial penalties, his goal-kicking is coming along nicely.
There is still a lot of debate whether outside centre is Kriel's best position on a rugby field. As a big, fast No 13 you would expect Kriel to be a bit more dangerous in looking for that outside gap, but he didn't quite test opposition defenders. His tackling in that wide channel is also still a cause for concern.
ASSESMENT OF THE BOK COACHING STAFF
The Springbok technical staff became a bit emotional on social media and at media conferences during the Rugby Championship. If they can't keep their emotions in check, how must the players do it on the field?
Allister Coetzee and his colleagues have made some great strides this year after a disastrous 2016. But they need to take the rough with the smooth in this game, otherwise their public outbursts and sarcasm at conference time will come back to haunt them.