A heroic performance by Ireland against the side ranked second in the world was lauded by Brian O'Driscoll and others following the 14 point victory at the Aviva Stadium.
Ignoring the summer Tests in Argentina where Joe Schmidt did not have a full-strength squad, this was the beginning of the post-O'Driscoll era, with Jared Payne filling the iconic 13 jersey on his international debut and Robbie Henshaw starting at inside centre.
Both players had limited opportunities in attack but were imperious on the back foot and O'Driscoll tweeted his pride after the match.
"Exceptional performance," he posted on his account.
Dynamic prop Cian Healy was forced to watch as provincial colleague Jack McGrath stepped into the breach and while he was under pressure at the scrum, put in 17 tackles in the physical encounter.
"That was fantastic! Defensive effort was off the charts!" he tweeted afterwards.
The loss of another key ball carrier Sean O'Brien was offered as another possible reason why Joe Schmidt's side would struggle to lower South African colours, but the backrow was immense. Peter O'Mahony was a nuisance to the opposition throughout, earning a crucial penalty that resulted in Ireland going 19-10 ahead, Rhys Ruddock got on the score sheet after being called up as a late replacement for Chris Henry while Jamie Heaslip maintained his sky-high standards of consistency.
"Excellent performance delighted for the lads," O'Brien, who is recovering from shoulder reconstruction, posted on his account.
A feature of the post-match interviews was the praise from the Springboks towards their hosts and Toulon star Bryan Habana continued the theme with his tweet.
"Not a great day at the office. Beaten by a better team and lots to work on over the next week!!" he said.